CLEARWATER — At one end of the room, legendary boxing cornerman Angelo Dundee was telling funny stories about Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
At the other end, Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer was talking about his charity. Nearby stood the Phillies' president as well as Dick Crippen, senior adviser to the Tampa Bay Rays. Clearwater's mayor was chatting with the previous mayor.
They were celebrating Clearwater for Youth, the longtime charity that has given thousands of underprivileged kids the chance to play sports, with the goal of steering them away from trouble.
"Frederick Douglass said it's better to raise boys than to fix men," Mayor Frank Hibbard said as he issued a city proclamation on behalf of the group during a gathering Thursday at Bright House Networks Field.
Former Mayor Brian Aungst, the group's chairman, said it has recently built up an endowment of $2.2 million, putting it in good shape to continue its work. It's putting kids on teams for boys and girls basketball, soccer, swimming, volleyball, football, golf and lacrosse, among other sports.
Aungst recalled the words of one of the group's founders, local philanthropist Fred Fisher: "If you keep them busy during the day, they'll sleep well at night."
Clearwater for Youth had an endowment of about $700,000 when a local philanthropist, Dick Jacobson, matched it with another $700,000 last year.
The group then matched Jacobson's donation by raising about $700,000 from corporate sponsors and individual donors.
Founded in 1972, the group's purpose is to foster character building, sportsmanship and teamwork through sports. It offers scholarships, grants and matching funds to a number of youth sports programs, helping youngsters pay for equipment and insurance costs.
One of the group's major fundraisers is its annual banquet, which will be held Saturday night at the Sheraton Sand Key. Two awards will be handed out Saturday.
Moyer, the oldest player in Major League Baseball at 47, will receive Clearwater for Youth's Humanitarian Award in recognition of his charity, which helps children in severe distress.
Dundee, best known as Ali's cornerman, will receive the group's "Champion For Youth" award for his charitable work in the area.
Dundee, 88, lives in Oldsmar and moved to the Tampa Bay area permanently three years ago to be near his son, a local optometrist.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.