COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A local non-profit organization is honoring a young soccer player who died from gun violence earlier this year.
During a banquet Saturday, My Project USA announced three new initiatives in the name of Issa Jeylani, a 15-year-old who was shot and killed playing soccer in his neighborhood. Two other teens were also injured in that shooting.
The initiative will include a soccer scholarship and two buildings, all established in Jeylani’s memory.
A wing in the new Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center will be called the Issa Jeylani Hilltop Youth Empowerment Center.
Fundraising also started Saturday for a new indoor recreation center in the Hilltop neighborhood which will serve as a safe place for thousands of young children in the area, and it’s something the community is currently lacking.
“The new indoor youth recreation space that we have been talking about for more than a year now,” My Project USA Founder Zerqa Abid said. “We have decided that we will name that center after Issa Jeylani so it will be called the Issa Jeylani Memorial Recreation Center.”
Jeylani was shot and killed on July 22 while playing soccer on the 4400 block of Sherwood Forest North.
“As the family of Issa, we miss him,” said Ali Abdi, Issa’s grandfather.
“We are very proud of this gathering today,” added Abdi Salam, Issa’s father.
Those who knew him described Jeylani as a rising star filled with passion and motivation.
“All of us believe we are doing the right thing for Issa,” Abid said.
My Project USA is launching the fund in his memory and in partnership with the Young Boys Family and the City of Columbus. The organization strives to provide children in the community with engaging programs like soccer to keep them away from gangs, guns, and trouble.
“We are hoping that it will keep our Issa’s name alive, his legacy alive, and we will be able to inspire more children to their very best,” Abid said.
Abid said Saturday’s announcement means the world to everyone at the banquet and the greater community.
“We are very excited about this and we are hoping that it will keep our Issa’s name alive, his legacy alive, and we will be able to inspire more children to their very best,” Abid said.
At the banquet, the organization is honoring other young soccer stars for their hard work and commitment to bettering themselves and their community.
“The children we are working with are beautiful, smart, resilient children and they are survivors of gang and gun violence,” Abid said. “Last year, he was here on this stage. I miss him very much.”
For more on My Project USA, click here.