Chicago-area natives Dwyane Wade and Common made an impressionable visit last Thursday to the Lighthouse Youth Center on the South Side.

by Jordane Frazier Chicago-area natives Dwyane Wade and Common made an impressionable visit last Thursday to the Lighthouse Youth Center on the South Side.

Wade, an NBA superstar, and Common a hip hop rapper, presented the youth center with a $100,000 check from Wade’s World Foundation in partnership with Common’s Common Ground Foundation.

The Lighthouse Youth Center, located in the 4300 block of South Prairie Street, opened its doors in March and quietly joined forces with the Common Ground Foundation in July to launch a free summer program for kids in the neighborhood.

“I want you all to know that you have a home now,” Common told the sea of excited children who gathered for the private event. “I want you all to know that your dreams are here, your dreams are being fulfilled. Whatever you want to achieve in life you have the love, which is the most important thing, here for you.”

With the donation from Wade and his foundation, the Common Ground Foundation anticipates extending the summer program which offers classes in creative writing, dance, healthy cooking, world culture, music and more to the fall so that children will have the opportunity to enjoy such benefits throughout the school year as well.

“Today is my first day being able to walk through these doors and take a tour,” Wade said of his first trip to the Lighthouse. “And it’s awesome.”

To show thanks and appreciation to both Wade and Common for their contributions, the children of the center put an extensive show together displaying the many talents they enhanced through the program. They recited poems, danced, sang and more for Wade and Common as well as other sponsors of the event including Wade’s mother, Pastor Jolita Wade; his sister and president of the Wade’s World Foundation, Tragil Wade; founder of the Lighthouse Youth Center Pastor John Hannah; and Wade’s girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union who happened to be in attendance.

“I started Common Ground because I felt like I wanted to be able see kids’ faces and know that what’s going on is happening throughout your life, not just me doing a show and then I leave and I don’t know what’s going on with you all,” Common told the youth. “I’m speaking for me and on behalf of D. Wade we’re here for you all and we care for you.”

Though the event was highly anticipated and exciting for the youth of the center and its workers, it was only the start of a long and eventful weekend for Wade and the Wade’s World Foundation which launched in 2003. The basketball star sponsored Wade’s World Weekend, a series charitable and entertaining events that took place through Sunday around the city.

“We’re trying to stress education for our kids,” Wade told the Defender. “We’re trying to evolve a great platform to stress education and get these kids programs. We’re trying to get dollars from the community to put back into the community.”

The weekend included a benefit dinner, bowling event and celebrity talent show. It also featured some of Wade’s notable friends including rapper Lupe Fiasco, comedian and actor Vince Vaughn, singer Jerimih and veteran NBA player Alonzo Mourning, to name a few.

His foundation affords Wade the opportunity to reap priceless rewards, he told the Defender.

“Just to see the smiles on kids’ faces and being able to interact with them … (and) knowing that they’re going to be able to have an opportunity to succeed.”

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

(Defender/Worsom Robinson)

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