Providing safe haven for Oak Cliff youth, track club makes final push for funds necessary for state meet

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Under a hot summer sun in Oak Cliff Tuesday evening, about two dozen kids got in one last sprint, another relay run and some final conditioning before hitting the road for a state meet.

Wednesday, they’ll leave for Brownsville where the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Summer Games of Texas will be a first-of-a-kind experience for kids like 15-year-old Kenneth Henry.

"It's a lot of pressure. It makes me a little nervous, but I'm pretty sure I'll overcome it,” said Henry.

President of the Oak Cliff Missiles Alicia Finley said for some of her kids and teens, the trip will be their first time out of Dallas.

"It means that we're doing something right. You know, every year we get bigger. Every year we get to do more with the kids,” said Finley.

But broadening their horizons was just one of the reasons she helped found the track club in 2018. The other was to provide a safe haven for those ages four to 18.

"To me, it's a blessing in itself to be able to provide that alternative, to keep them out of the streets and away from the gun violence and other things,” she said.

As Finley watches a summer uptick in violence from afar, she can't help but feel grateful for what her program has been able to offer those who’ve come through.

"Their determination is motivation for me to go stronger each year,” said Finley.

Still, four years in, she said the program relies on community support.

On the eve of their scheduled departure, the Missiles are about $3,000 shy of the funds it will take to comfortably transport and house 20 young runners for the five-day competition.

For those who've found community and their own strength out on this track, Finley holds onto faith what they need will come through to continue their mission this summer and the next.

"It was something for us to give back to the kids,” she said.

Finley has set up a GoFundMe to raise the rest of the money needed.

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