Rise Up started out in 1993 as a basketball team at a low income school called Stratton Elementary. Michael Marion volunteered to coach his son's Parks and Rec team, and since he lived in the same school district, his son was playing on that team. His son was the only one with a father at home. Midway through the season, the guidance counsellor, Laura Henderson, asked if Coach Marion could keep meeting with the boys since their behavior and grades improved significantly.
After much prayer and reflection, Boys to Men emerged. However in actuality, the story of Boys to Men started long before. As Coach Marion says, "I was the first kid in Rise Up." He was raised in Snake Holler, TN by bootlegging grandparents. When he was nine, a lady from Vermont moved into the county to start "Bible Clubs" for mountain children. It was through her intervention that he was inspired to graduate high school and college, two goals that no one from his extended family had ever achieved.
After graduating from ETSU in 1983, he aspired to be a missionary, but decided to take a stop in a group home for teenage boys. After 10 years, and over 200 boys living in the group home with him and his wife Sherry, they started Boys to Men. What began as a small group of boys blossomed into a daily after school program, an individual and group mentoring program, and life prep program. So 25 years later, thousands of kids have passed through our sports teams, in-school relationship training program, camps, or other programs, all knowing, whether for a day or for years, that they are loved, cherished, and belong here.