Published in the 9/23/09 issue of the Suburban Journals
Part of the “Celebrate Your Neighbor” Award Series
A Believer in Involvement
Richard “R.J.” and Russell Krause know the meaning of victory. They’ve coached teams to victory on the court and watched victory from the sidelines at local sporting events. But according to the brothers, the real victory is in the smiles of the thousands of children in the East St. Louis and Washington Park communities that they have mentored for more than 40 years.
“Richard and Russell have continued to help the young people that need it the most,” Lynn Miller said in her letter nominating the East St. Louis natives for the Suburban Journals Celebrate Your Neighbor Award. “Almost 100 percent of their kids are considered to be at risk for their well being.”
As founders of the R.J. Krause All-Stars Sports Club established in 1964, the Krause brothers have devoted their lives to the youth of the St. Clair County communities. Beyond coaching winning sporting teams in conjunction with the sports club, the duo have spent countless hours collecting clothes and toys for children in the area and transporting at-risk youth to local events.
“I’m amazed at how these kids talk to us and how their eyes brighten up when they see us,” Russell Krause said. “A lot of these kids have never done these things before – they look forward to it and think a lot of these field trips.”
The field trips include travels to local high school sporting events, major league football, baseball, and basketball games, and visits to local fairs, parades, circuses, picnics and plays. They have taken as many as 98 children at one time or as little as six to the events, using their own vehicles to transport from each child’s home.
“They do so much and the majority of it is out of their pocket, their time,” Miller said.
Since 2005, R.J. Krause has been leading the activities from a wheel chair. After coaching more than 6,000 athletic events, Krause, a teacher and coach at Nelson Mandela School in East St. Louis, fell from the bleachers at a track meet, resulting in surgery on both knees and 11 months of physical therapy.
“He could have quit or retired, but he didn’t,” Miller said.
Instead, his brother Russell stepped in to help his brother recover and continue the mission of community service the two learned as children. “My mom taught me the golden rule,” R.J. Krause said. “You help people out no matter what.”
– Shannon Philpott