Leo Gibson was making the rounds Wednesday, visiting many of the area’s professional sports teams in hopes of securing donations and celebrity players for his upcoming fifth annual Teeing Up for Kids golf tournament.
The veteran Kansas City Comets forward, who is the Major Arena Soccer League team’s all-time leading scorer, was in high spirits as he talked about a community center that is nearing completion in the town of Dimeh in his native Liberia.
He shows photo after photo of the foundation that has been poured and mock drawings of the life-changing facility that was the dream of his late mother-in-law, Joanna Weeks Reeves.
“My wife’s mother, Joanna, dreamed of a community center – someplace safe where the youngsters could go find books and read and meet their friends – in Liberia and we are hoping it will be finished sometime later this year.
“It’s the rainy season in Liberia, and that has delayed the construction somewhat, but we just left there in May and it was amazing to see the first stages of the construction.”
Gibson, who founded Kick for Christ with fellow Liberian Worteh Sampson, also works with the Children LifeTime Educational Foundation (CLTEF), which was founded by Weeks and is now operated by Gibson’s wife Lischen.
Kick for Christ collects new and used shoes and soccer gear that is given to deserving youngsters in the metro area and Liberia, while CLTEF was founded to help youngsters in Liberia enjoy a safe and secure atmosphere of learning.
On their last trip to Liberia, Gibson and his five-person team visited an orphanage and a school for the blind and the always-smiling Comets forward was taken aback by the joy and love that filled each of the buildings.
“These children had very little, but they had a lot of love,” said Gibson, the 2013-14 MVP for the Major Indoor Soccer League, the precursor to the MASL. “We brought along a doctor and he examined the children, and we are hoping that next time we visit, we can take along an opthamologist, because many of the children our doctor examined with eye problems could be corrected with just basic care.”
The doctor told Gibson that many of the children at the orphanage complained of overall soreness, and the Comets standout and his troupe found out the reason why when they visited.
“You could not believe the mattresses they were sleeping on, it was so sad. They were torn and the stuffing was coming out and you just couldn’t believe it,” Gibson said in a voice just above a whisper.
Gibson then went out and purchased 24 new mattresses for each of the beds in the orphanage.
“We had a guy come along, a real handyman, and he fixed all the bed frames so the mattresses fit perfectly, and the little kids were so excited,” Gibson said. “It was one of the best parts of our trip.”
Gibson is now seeking teams, sponsors and items for a charity auction for his fifth annual golf tournament, which features a 1 p.m. shotgun start, Oct. 7 at Tiffany Greens Golf Club in Kansas City North.
“We are very excited about the golf tournament and look forward to showing everyone who attends the photos and videos of the good things we are doing with the funds we have raised,” Gibson said. “What’s really going to be exciting is to show everyone the finished community center, because that will change so many lives.”