**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**
Every year, the South Carolina men's basketball team goes around the community to give back to people young and old. It's part of the 8K In 8 Days initiative that takes place every year around this time.
This year's event started on Tuesday when the Gamecocks visited the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center at Brookland Baptist Church. The players put the children through basketball drills and played various games with them.
"We want to thank the University for continuing this program and coming out," said Bennie Sulton, the interim chair of the board of directors for the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. "It's so important to have young people who learn by example. We're so happy to work with the young people here and let them see that it's not where you're from, it's where you're going."
Photo gallery (photos by Allen Sharpe)
The process to get the Gamecocks out to the center started last year, and it's a great opportunity for the children to get some one-on-one time with the players.
"It feels good giving back to the community, especially when it's given us so much," Maik Kotsar said. "It really means a lot."
There were smiles all around on Tuesday and the event is something the children will undoubtedly remember for a long time. For the most part, those young children just see the Gamecocks on television playing basketball in their uniforms. Thanks to the 8K In 8 Days initiative, they were able to get up close and personal with those figures on TV.
"Young people need role models, and they're serving as role models for these kids," Sulton said of the Gamecocks. "It's about applying yourself and where you can go if you apply yourself."
8K In 8 Days continues on Wednesday when the Gamecocks hold an event at the Carolina Coliseum practice facility with the Richland County Sheriff's Department.