During the last week of March, the Boys & Girls Club of Venice joined more than 1,000 other Boys & Girls Clubs across the country in celebrating National Boys & Girls Club Week.

This year, the club is celebrating its successes in providing a positive place for kids and teens with a number of different events and activities.

The weeklong celebration began with the Inaugural Boys & Girls Club of Venice Charity Golf Invitational presented by Gersh Sports, and hosted by NFL (National Football League) star Corey Dillon at Calabasas Country Club.

The week also featured a spelling bee, an art exhibit, a talent showcase and the dedication ceremony for the clubís gymnasium, which has been renovated by the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation and the Ludwick Foundation.

An inaugural charity golf invitational presented by The Gersh Agency sports division and hosted by NFL star Dillon featured numerous celebrities in the field including Mike Patterson of the Philadelphia Eagles, former professional athletes Jesse Sapolu, Greg Townsend, Al Downing, Danny Farmer and Lou Johnson, among others.

Also in attendance were actors Jason London, Brian Krause and actor/comedian Katt Williams. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Venice.

ìWe were excited to bring together the business community in support of the club,î said Toi Cook, event chair and senior vice-president of Gersh Sports.

ìIt was a wonderful event featuring a great day of golf, food, fun, and an opportunity to meet some of the club members.î

The gym dedication ceremony highlighted the renovation of the gymnasium at the 30,000-square-foot club facility, and honored the Lakers Youth Foundation and the Ludwick Family Foundation for their contribution and support in remodeling the gym.

The renovation included the installation of a brand-new hardwood floor, and a 60-foot mural honoring some of the greatest players in Los Angeles Lakers history.

The ceremony included an unveiling of the new gymnasium, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and an opportunity for some of the club members to take part in drills with members of the Lakers organization.

The Boys & Girls Club of Venice, founded in 1969, is a privately-funded nonprofit organization that depends on private donations and volunteers to accom- plish its mission.

The club annually serves some 4,000 youths. To make a donation, volunteer, or for more information, (310) 390-4477, or www .bgcv.org/.

Erikk Aldridge is the chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Venice.

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