The Detroit Lions and Ford Motor Company teamed up to deliver a BIG surprise to DBG and it’s one that will help keep our academic and athletic program on the move. Click the video player below to watch.

Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford, Danny Amendola, Jarrad Davis and Devon Kennard walked into the Downtown Boxing Gym recently to the shock and delight of our students and staff. Our hometown football heroes came bearing gifts including gold-colored footballs and swag bags for all of the kids. But, the game-changing moment came when the players urged DBG’s Founder and CEO, Khali Sweeney, and some of the students to step outside.

“I saw this brand-new Ford transit van rolling up the street, and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Khali said. “That’s exactly what we’ve been needing to help grow our program.”

Ford donated the shiny new 15-passenger van to DBG, the 8th in our fleet, and we are truly grateful. Millions of people across the U.S. got to share the moment which was captured on camera by NFL Films. The story aired in a national TV spot during halftime Thanksgiving Day as the Lions took on the Chicago Bears in Detroit. The video also played on the big screen at Ford Field in front of a cheering crowd. 

The new van comes at a critical time when DBG is working to grow our program to 250 students by the end of 2020. We’re on a mission to help more young people succeed by providing tutoring, mentorship, enrichment programs (like computer coding, robotics and music), college and career readiness, socio-emotional skills building, literacy and math intervention, athletics, healthy meals and more, all year round, all free of charge. Bringing on an additional 100 boys and girls, ages 8-18, requires significant additional resources and transportation is one of them.

“We work hard to remove barriers so students from all socioeconomic backgrounds across the city can receive the benefits of our program,” said DBG Executive Director Jessica Hauser. “Transportation is one of the biggest hurdles we’ve been working to overcome, and we are so thankful to Ford and the Lions for responding with this new van. What an awesome gift to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.”

DBG’s 7 existing vans, generously provided by GM Fleet, travel 90 miles every weekday, safely picking up 86 students from homes and schools and dropping them off each night. The Downtown Boxing Gym currently serves approximately 150 students from 30 different zip codes and 57 schools across Detroit and nearby suburbs. Coordinating transportation is no small feat. Here’s an animated graphic showing how far our vans and drivers travel.

DBG proudly hires many of our parents as van drivers, providing job opportunities for our families. Our vans also help get six of our students to and from De La Salle Collegiate High School, a private all-boys school in Warren, which they attend thanks to scholarships from generous donors. 

“Statistics show that students who use our vans are much more likely to complete our full program and graduate from high school. That’s why it’s so important that we provide reliable transportation,” Hauser said. “When students can get to the gym consistently, they can take full advantage of the academic programs and resources we offer. This is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to student success.”

DBG will go further than we ever imagined with the help of friends like Ford, the Detroit Lions and you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Now that we have our new van, YOU can help, too! Click here to donate and help fuel our efforts to hire a new driver + cover insurance, gas, maintenance and other expenses all year round.