CARBONDALE (WSIL) — Aaron Lee is proud his vision is finally coming to light.
"I think the energy and emotions you hear in my voice is years and years of wanting to help and not knowing how to," Lee said.
It took him years of renovations and nearly $1 million to turn the former Bowen Gym Community Center into the Dentmon Center.
"If we change one kid’s life. I’m sure for that kid and his family, that financial investment, pays in comparison."
Lee said the Dentmon Center is more than just a new gym.
"But for social and emotional enrichment as well. And we really wanted to put an emphasis on kids living with autism, so we also dedicated 3,500 square feet gym for them," Lee said.
Carbondale native and professional basketball player Justin Dentmon bought the building on West High Street in the summer of 2016 with the hopes of transforming it into a multi-center for kids, teens and adults.
The facility also had a few setbacks after vandals broke in and spray-painted racial slurs on the court. But that bump in the road didn’t stop them from building their vision. There have been upgrades to the basketball court, locker rooms and batting cage.
Lee said he hopes the center brings a brighter future to those in the community.
"It takes a village to raise children. We want to be part of that village and part of that process," he said.
The athletic youth side of the center is expected to be complete by January 2020. They plan to have a grand opening shortly after the completion. That day is yet to be determined.