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For the Love of Larry
Basketball tournament to raise money to fight bullying
Larry Parks mug for Web
Larry Parks
    On Jan. 7 of 2009, 17-year-old Larry Rakeen Parks died.     Though almost no one knew it at the time, the Statesboro High junior was the victim of vicious bullying and chose to end his life.
    Saturday, the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County will hold its first “Love of Larry” Basketball Tournament. The tournament will raise money to bring in Cary Trivanovich, a nationally renowned speaker on bullying from California. Trivanovich will speak to an assembly at Statesboro High on Jan. 12.
    “We were aware of some bullying going on in his life,” said Linda Carlson, who is helping organize the tournament and was a close friend of Parks and his family.
    The idea for the tournament came from Parks' cousin DeAnthony Stevens. A senior at Statesboro High, Stevens chose the tournament to raise awareness about bullying as his senior class project.
    “The tournament is one way to get people's attention that bullying is a real problem,” Stevens said. “If somehow or someway it can have an affect on stopping even one kid from being bullied, Larry will not have died in vain.”
    Carlson said Parks came into the life of her family when she chose his name for an Angel Tree gift at Christmas. He was 7 years old at the time.
    “We instantly fell in love with this child who had a wonderful sense of humor and a smile that lit up a room,” Carlson said. “Larry was well liked by his teachers, fellow students and at R.J.'s where he worked.”
    Carlson said members of the community are forming the “For the Love of Larry Project,” which will be part of the Boys and Girls Club.
    “Our mission is to decrease bullying in the schools and the community through education and research,” Carlson said.
    Stevens said he has raised about $3,000 so far for the project and he hopes the tournament will raise enough money to bring in Trivanovich and purchase a headstone for Parks' grave.
    The 5 -on-5 full court tournament gets underway at the club on Denmark Street at 8 a.m. The cost is $75 per team and there is a limit of 16 teams.
    Call Stevens at (912) 536-8142, Carlson at (912) 489-6428 or Tiffany Weathers at (912) 489-7134 for more information about the tournament.
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