CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Teen gun violence has seemingly become a more common crime reported in Central Illinois and Champaign-Urbana is no exception. Cries for an end to the deaths of our youth has come from various non-profits, companies and community leaders. Now, one is ready to “kick it all out” for good.

That message is echoed by Bennie Cheez Drake’s kickball tournament set for August 28th at Douglass Park on McFarland baseball field. His tournament, in collaboration with First String, Inc., is designed to raise as much money as possible for new equipment. That way kids have a better experience playing sports through their programming. But Bennie has had close encounters with gun violence, as did his own mother recently.

This morning, Bennie joined us to declare the violence must stop. He reflected with me on how a week or two ago, his mother texted him late at night that she was on the floor. Taken back, his mother also shared her home was hit by gunfire, causing her to drop and hide. A moment Bennie says should never happen.

“Last year, there was a shooting on 4th street and bullets hit the house. The other night, she was almost involved in that other one over with Trace. She stays just around the corner. I get a text she’s on the floor. I’m like are you okay, are you okay? You shouldn’t have to have those conversations. That’s ridiculous. We have to stop this somewhere.”

With that in mind, Bennie has endless positive experiences in store for kids and their families if they attend the Northend Kickball Extravaganza. There will be FREE food alongside a Charity Grill Off, but judges and three contestants are still needed. Music will be provided by DJ Slim, powerful speakers will be heard and more. The 10-team tournament aims to “kick shootings and killings out of their neighborhood” for good.

The tournament, which runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., is next Sunday and will host big name individuals like newly elected Champaign Police Chief Timothy Tyler, State Senator Scott Bennett, Bill Dixon of Dixon Stars Basketball and more. All uniting to offer a sincere encouragement to the youth to turn from violence.

Monetary donations are welcome along with volunteers. To donate, contact Bennie at 217-714-9804 or email him at along with Shannon McFarland at

The tournament is for anyone 13 and older. Bennie says it’s $25.00 per team to sign up.

You can also learn more about the Kickball Extravaganza by clicking here.