provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Sterling Carter, a participant and Mentor of Pickup the Ball, Annie Campbell, Sanibel-Captiva Rotary President Elect, and Ted Sottong, CEO and Founder of Pickup the Ball

This past week we heard from two very different speakers sharing experiences that showed how similar they really were, Ted Sottong and Sterling Carter of Pickup the Ball, Inc of Ft. Myers, a mentoring program for young men between the ages of 16 and 24 in low-income, high-risk areas to provide them opportunities that will raise their level of expectations for life, increase their chance of success, and improve understanding among all communities.

Sterling Carter grew up fatherless in Fort Myers on a street known for drug activity, but thanks to his brother Mason, was steered away from those influences and towards basketball. He was unknowingly part of the beginning of Pickup the Ball by introducing Ted Sottong, his mentor through his high school years, to the world of basketball and the community in which it thrives. Ted Sottong recognized a need in our local community and founded Pickup the Ball in 2012 with the purpose of providing services to young men in the community who, because of poverty, fatherlessness, and other negative environmental factors, have not had access to resources and information that they might have had otherwise.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, children from fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of all homeless and runaway youths, 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders, 71% of all high school dropouts, 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions, 75% of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers and 75% of rapists motivated by displaced anger.

Pickup the Ball, Inc is in the process of creating a Residence that will have the capacity to house12 young men who are either in school or working. The residents will be served meals family style and have classes on budgeting and other necessary life skills. They will also support the young men in encouraging further education, obtaining their driver’s license, obtaining employment and taking on more responsibilities in their lives while leading them away from drugs, gangs and abuse. Ted is hopeful that the Residence will be fully functional before the end of this year.

Ted became a Rotarian in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania in 1997, and has enjoyed a successful architectural career for the past three decades. His commitment to Pickup the Ball is currently the main focus in his life.
Sterling Carter is a recent graduate of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, MO. After graduating, Sterling has plans to return to Fort Myers and utilize his degree in Pastoral Studies to help lead and serve in a local church and with Pickup the Ball.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary will be holding hybrid meetings both on Zoom and in person at the Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way. Doors open at 6:45 a.m., the meeting begins at 7:15 a.m. Please email by the Tuesday before the meeting if you would like to attend in person. For more information about Rotary, visit All are welcome.

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