Your vote can win a new van for the Downtown Boxing Gym after school program

School's in session at the Downtown Boxing Gym. Normally an afterschool program, it is pivoting to meet students' needs during this pandemic Their motto is "Books Before Boxing."

As children are taught individually and in small groups, masks are required and the kids are still getting their exercise.

But there's been a lot of outreach happening, too. DBG is making sure students have much-needed food and supplies.

"When Covid hit, we took all the seats out of our vans and instead of sending food just to one of the kids that's in one of our programs, we started sending food home to the whole family to make sure they could make it through the week," Khali Sweeney.

Sweeney is the founder of the Downtown Boxing Gym. He's known poverty before and he's determined to make sure the students in his program have all of the tools they need to be successful, supplying everything from food and technology to transportation.

"Right now we have about 177 kids," he said. "And we have a waiting list that's crazy, way over a thousand," he said.

There is about 1,300 children on a waitlist for the program, many of whom don't have access to transportation which means DBG does the driving.

"We pick them up from home, we bring them here, we take them back home or we pick them up from school," Sweeney said. "And that's a big part of our 100 percent graduation rate, is that we're consistent and we can consistently get them from A to B.

The Downtown Boxing Gym gets its transportation through grants or donations. Right now they have access to eight vans - and that's not nearly enough.

And now with covid - even with the plexiglass - they can't transport as many students as they once did.

But now this - an opportunity to win a Mercedes Sprinter van. DBG is one of four finalists in the Mercedes Small Business, Big Impact contest - another van could mean the gym could provide another 15,000 rides per year.

"We definitely need to get that van in our program because like I said, we have 1,300 kids on the waitlist and the main part of the problem is that we can't get them here - not safely at least," Sweeney said. "We can't overpack a van, so we definitely need to have another van."

Which is where you come in - all it takes is a click - and you can vote again every four hours - up to five times a day.

"They need to vote and vote often because there are two elections going on," Sweeney quipped. "You need to vote for this van."

Because a vote for this van is a vote for the success of every child at the Downtown Boxing Gym. Go to to cast your vote. Voting runs through Oct. 23.

"Without the community, we couldn't get this done," Sweeney said. "We need the community."

Khali Sweeney needs your vote to help The Downtown Boxing Gym help more children.

Khali Sweeney needs your vote to help The Downtown Boxing Gym help more children.