Cle Ross, a 1996 Wellington High School graduate, remembers one day during his youth coming home and seeing a new pair of high school wrestling shoes on his steps.
He was stunned by the act of kindness by this anonymous donor. Ross had grown up in a single parent household, and couldn't afford such shoes. But there they were.
Ross would wear those shoes onto a third-place finish in the 1996 Kansas State Wrestling Tournament.
"That motivated me to be a good guy," Ross said. "I learned in order to be successful in life you're going to have to have the help from others."
Today, Ross is giving back, big time.
He is the founder and CEO of Success Achieved in Future Environments, an organization in Kansas City, Kans. that has been raising funds to build two new baseball complexes in the urban area.
Ross is a freight train broker during the day. During the evening and weekends he spends his time enriching the lives of youth ages 3 through 18.
He recently started "Support Towards Inner City Kids" Little League baseball program. The organization last summer had 155 players participate and play against some of the best and finest traveling baseball teams in the area.
Now he is raising funds to start the reconstruction of two baseball fields in the Wyandotte County area.
Ross said he got the idea more than a decade ago when he was jogging with a teammate while playing for the Kansas City Community College baseball team. As he was running by the field of overgrown weeds and a deteriorating complex, he made a promise to himself to rebuild this field.
"I knew what it was like to have the opportunity to play on nice fields in Wellington," Ross said. "I wanted kids who lived around here to have the same opportunity I had." Sure enough, today Ross is fulfilling his promise.
Last summer with the help of a Kansas City T-Bones groundskeeping department, Ross got the fields playable for home games for boys and girls in the Wyandotte County area.
Now Ross and the T-Bones grounds crew are looking to raise $50,000 to renovate the baseball field. Eventually, he hopes to raise $1 million to build the STICKS Urban Youth Academy.
"There are not a lot of African Americans who play baseball in the Major Leagues these days," Ross said. "And that's because they don't have the resources available growing up to play baseball. They go on to play basketball and other things.”
“I'm trying to change that, at least here."
Ross grew up playing baseball in Wellington and was a member of the 15-year-old Babe Ruth All Star team that made it to a Midwest Regional Championship in Wellington before losing to Minnetonka, Minn. in the championship.
Page 2 of 2 - In high school he played multi-sports: basketball, football, wrestling and baseball.
But he wasn’t a star for the Wellington High School baseball team.
Nevertheless, Ross was determined to further his baseball career and get a college degree.
He walked on at Kansas City Kansas Community College and eventually garnered a scholarship at North Central Missouri College. Eventually he would go on to four-year school getting his degree at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff while playing baseball.
Ross returned to the area where he started his college career to build his career.
Today, Ross looks fondly back at Wellington where his mother, Pat Ringo, still resides.
"Mom always tells me not to work so hard," Ross said. "But I was blessed as a kid and I feel I need to give back."