State, The (Columbia, SC)
AREA MINISTRY CELEBRATES ITS FIRST COLLEGE GRADUATE
For Tyquan Johnson, 7, Todd McClinton is a heroic big brother. "I like
playing football with Todd," said Johnson, who has known McClinton
He gets to see him quite often when McClinton comes by Heartworks
off Two Notch Road.
McClinton, 24, grew up in the same Waites Road community off Two Notch.
In May, he earned a bachelor's degree in sports management and
recreation at Clemson University, becoming the first from Heartworks
Ministry to graduate from college.
, a Christian ministry operating out of Crescent Hill
Baptist Church, was started by McClinton's eighth-grade teacher, Sandee
McClinton and his family have played an important role in the continuation of the group.
"He likes working with kids," said Breon Kelly, 13, who is helping out with Heartworks
' Bible boot camp this week.
For the people who have known and supported McClinton, his graduation is a crowning moment.
"I can't sum up the feeling," said Hensley, who considers McClinton and
his family part of her family. "I'm so proud of him, I can hardly stand
it. I'm so amazed that God took us through so many things."
McClinton was rated fifth-best tight end prospect when he graduated
from C.A. Johnson High School. He played football at Clemson, but
during the 2003 season he was sidelined by fainting spells.
He spent several weeks undergoing tests, including 10 days at the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minn. While his condition was not
life-threatening, McClinton finished his time at Clemson working with
the coaching staff.
McClinton looks back at his college experience as a tough but rewarding time.
"It was a great experience. It was a good thing for me. I had to overcome a lot of stuff to go through college," McClinton said.
McClinton has become a magnet for the Heartworks
program, which has about 50 students, Hensley said.
"He is everybody's big brother. He's the role model and they all want to be like Todd," Hensley said.
McClinton took his college degree, now framed, to the center so the others could see it.
"He has helped others focus on their dreams. They are all of a sudden
paying attention to him, when they wouldn't listen to me," Hensley said.
Now, McClinton is looking for work in recreation or sports management.
In the meantime, he delivers the message to the students at Heartworks
to stay in school and earn a college education.
"I based my college career on going to the NFL," McClinton said. "And
football didn't work out. (But) I managed to stay in school."
Reach Thomas at (803) 771-8570 or email@example.com.
1-2. Todd McClinton is shown as a Heartworks
volunteer at Bible Boot Camp near Crescent Baptist Church in Columbia. PHOTOGRAPHS BY ERIKCAMPOS/THE STATE