AFES holds inaugural celebration

Saturday’s Inauguration Bash fundraiser was held in honor of Barack Obama’s swearing in on Monday, but the big focus wasn’t on politics.

The Athletics for Education and Success fundraiser was mostly about the kids, according to organizers and attendees.

Michele Summers helped plan the event, and took tickets at the door Saturday. She said the inauguration was highlighted because “we needed a theme, but I’ve heard all day it’s for the kids.”

AFES is raising money for its “Project Slam,” to build a multipurpose building that will offer more sports activities and a Skill to Work area.

Ebony Caston, of Fort Dodge, brought her two children to the event “to support AFES, definitely,” she said. “I used to work here, and they come here for the after-school program.”

State Sen. Daryl Beall spoke at the event and praised AFES founder Charles Clayton.

“Charles is certainly a community leader,” Beall said. “I would thank you for spearheading this and for your initiative, and what President Bush senior called ‘that elusive vision thing.’ You certainly have that vision thing.”

Beall then read Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Later, the Rev. DC Darensbourg of Second Baptist Church presented a Frederick Douglass speech.

Darensbourg spoke on Obama’s second election.

“The commenters and prognosticators will tell you that times are bad … but my faith is somewhere else,” he said. “And I think my faith is validated because we as a people have, for the second time, moved beyond racial lines, beyond cultural differences, and have put in office a man who we believe carries our ideas. I’m proud of that.”

Summers said turnout was very good, and many people paid more than was asked to get in.

She said the center is hoping to do an event like this every six weeks, such as for Mardi Gras or Cinco de Mayo.