“If I didn’t have sports at a young age, I’d probably be in the streets doing stupid stuff. I’m a perfect example of what can happen coming from a broken home, growing up with nothing as a baby, and finding a way to utilize my talent and get an education,” said Cozart.
Cozart, who has appeared in many major movies, including White Men Can’t Jump, Conspiracy Theory, Eraser, 16 Blocks, Three To Tango, Eagle Eye and Love Affair and has his own production company, shares his educational message through the non-profit Keeping Dreams Alive, which empowers communities and provides opportunities for academic and athletic growth for youth in Broward and Miami inner city schools.
Cozart and his close friend comedian Mike Marino- who is known to his fans as New Jersey’s Bad Boy of Comedy and one of the top comedians in the nation- will host an evening of laughter on Friday, June 17 at 7 pm at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts. The funds raised will go to the non-profit. The Coral Springs Teen Task Force, led by former Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook, is also helping with this event.
“Cylk and Mike love giving back and they are doing this as a benefit to the kids,” said Glenn Stoutt, Director of Operations for the Keeping Dreams Alive Foundation.
Besides major fundraising events with celebrities, the non-profit has athletes, actors and business professionals share their educational and inspirational stories with young athletes at area low income middle and high schools. Their message always emphasizes the importance of education, the college recruitment process, and on pursuing their dreams.
But the program doesn’t only last a semester; the non-profit continues to mentor youth throughout their academic careers and provide them with the inspiration to keep going.
“We are trying to broaden their world and help them make the right choices. We are teaching them to embrace opportunities, and at the same time we are backing them and showing them how to take it to the next level, such as going to college on an athletic scholarship,”
That message has impacted many youth who have gone on to become pro athletes and community leaders. One such success story is Kevin Grooms, who became mixed up with drugs at a young age after his father went to prison. Kevin was headed down the same destructive road and it became apparent to him that the direction he was headed was a dead end and that it was literally leading him to the same prison his father was in, and he decided he didn't want any part of that. He was soon introduced to Glenn Stoutt and the KDA team. After spending several months with KDA he began to see the world around him differently. His perspective of the world had changed and the perception of himself was forever changed. Kevin made straight As that following semester in school. You will be able to see Kevin on Saturday afternoons this coming fall because he earned a full athletic scholarship to the University of Miami to play football. When asked what he wants to do when he graduates Kevin always replies "I want to come back and give back,” says Stoutt.
“We are about changing one life, and we know we can change a generation,”
Road To Success
Cylk Cozart has enjoyed seeing lives change before his eyes after he shares his road to success with struggling youth. Cozart was once sitting in their shoes as a young basketball player who attended college on an athletic scholarship. However, his dreams of a career in the NBA were shattered when he suffered an injury.
“It was a big awakening,” he said.
At that time, Cozart had to come up with another career plan. When he moved to Miami, he landed a modeling gig with Michele Pommier by being at the right place at the right time. He later decided to continue modeling in New York, and then moved to Las Angeles to pursue acting.
His continued love for basketball was what led him to his lucky break. One day while shooting hoops, actor Denzel Washington told him about a role for the movie, White Men Can’t Jump. Cozart auditioned the next day and was hired. Since then, Cozart has acted alongside Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson, Warren Beatty, and many other stars.
Despite being a major star himself, Cozart has remained grounded and has never forgotten where he has come from. He continues to encourage young athletes.
“My message is very straightforward to anyone, especially the kids. The first thing I say is to set many goals, write down all the positive things you want to do, and work on what’s going to get you there,” said Cozart, who believes it’s important to surround yourself with positive friends, “Once I knew what I had, I really believed in myself, and it didn’t really matter what anybody said. It used to be so important what other people thought of me and that I had to be liked, but once I didn’t care, it got me going to the places I needed to go.”
The Keeping Dreams Alive Foundation urges the community to come out to this event.
“The public can come out and witness a great comedian and see what can happen when a community gets behind its children,” said Cozart, “It does take a community and a village to give these children inspiration and show them that people do care.”
To donate to the Foundation, visit www.kdafoundation.org and on the home page simply click the "donate" button.
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OUR TOWN NEWS is the local area's most popular community news magazine with a history of over fifteen years of serving South Florida readers and businesses. The weekly, full color magazine and the OTN "Great Deals" coupon book are distributed via U.S. Mail to over 50,000 homes and businesses in Parkland and Coral Springs. Several thousand additional copies are hand delivered weekly to numerous businesses and offices throughout Coral Springs, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Tamarac, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton and Margate, Florida. A special Margate issue will be direct mailed to 28,000 homes and businesses in Margate in July with plans for it to be a monthly publication beginning in the Fall of 2011. OTN’s continuing commitment is to be an ever growing force in supporting the local community and contributing to the success of our advertising partners.
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OUR TOWN NEWS is the local area's most popular weekly community news magazine with a history of over fifteen years of serving South Florida readers and businesses. The magazine is distributed via U.S. Mail to over 50,000 homes and businesses each month.