Entrepreneur T.J. Breeden and philanthropist Doug Hodges were honored with the Hugo Germino Sports Ambassador Award last week at the Durham Sports Club.
Mr. Germino, an award-winning sports editor with the Herald Sun, was a pillar in the community for his public service.
“Hugo was a man for all seasons,” club member and retired ACC official Tommy Hunt said at last Wednesday’s DSC meeting. “He was honest to a fault.”
Breeden was born with a passion for caring, his father, Pastor Theodore Breeden, said. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Breeden founded eMering Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit that trains and assists military veterans and spouses into becoming entrepreneurs, and helps youth and other underserved communities with job-training skills.
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The White House has honored his work, and last year he was presented with the Dr. John Hope Franklin Humanitarian of the Year Award.
“He always tries to help individuals, and has a caring heart and spirit,” his father said. “T.J. noticed that veterans were not being treated as well as he thought, and he wanted to do something about it.”
Good friend Desmond Miller, director of marketing for Boy Scouts of America Occoneechee Council, said Breeden epitomizes what the Boy Scouts stands for.
“A scout is trustworthy, brave, caring, and those are the characteristics T.J. have,” he said. “T.J. brings a lot of himself into the work that he does, and that rubs off. Being in his presence is going to make you better and him better.”
Breeden said he didn’t have a plan on how to help people; he just knew he had to do something.
“I just sent something out, and we got 30 responses from veterans who were transitioning out of service, and it went off from there,” he said. “About a year ago, we said we wanted to work with kids. Today, we are providing resources to 75 kids. I’m very honored to receive this award.”
Doug Hodges came to the United States 35 years ago with $100 in his pocket. After “sleeping on many floors,” he eventually became a mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. He parlayed that into creating SwingPals, a nonprofit that teaches golf to at-risk middle-school students.
Elon senior Jordan Jeder, who was matched up with Hodges in elementary school, said their friendship changed his life.
“Doug taught me the importance of philanthropy,” he said. “He has been a best friend, and I have grown up with him and his family. I couldn’t think of anybody else more deserving of this award.”
SwingPals will be taught at Neal, Brogden and Lowe’s Grove middle schools this fall to 100 students at each school.
“It’s our job to help make future generations stronger,” said Hodges who became a U.S. citizen last month. “My life changed in 1997 when I began mentoring children. I’m committed to making sure every child is loved.”
Also recognized was the Bouncing Bulldogs jump rope program. Coached under Founder/Director Ray Frederick Jr. for over 35 years, the Bulldogs were the first recipients of the Hugo Germino Award 15 years ago.
“The Durham Sports Club is special and has been good to us,” Frederick said. “We have 140 kids from 25 different schools and 19 different countries.”