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Former Brunswick High School football player and current Detroit Lions defensive back Darius Slay, left, and Coastal Outreach Soccer director Shawn Williams, right, met supporters at the Breakfast of Champions fundraiser Tuesday morning in the conference center at Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick Campus.

The Coastal Outreach Soccer program’s goal, when established roughly a decade ago, was to help struggling students in the Brunswick area graduate high school with increased consistency. It’s now growing at a pace so fast, the organization’s ambitions are trying to keep up.

Tuesday morning, director Shawn Williams hosted a Breakfast of Champions fundraiser in the Perkins Conference Center at Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick campus. The event was headlined by special guest Detroit Lions defensive back and former Brunswick Pirate, Darius Slay, who is Williams’ cousin.

Slay took photo ops with patrons and players from the COS program at the end of the breakfast.

Williams said the first edition of the Breakfast of Champions was a success.

He said the event not only provided necessary funds to help the program continue to provide affordable extracurricular opportunities for young athletes, but also gave patrons face-to-face time with current and former members of the program.

“Building those relationships are critical,” Williams said. “We can share stories all day, but actually giving our supporters the opportunity to meet and talk with them and get first hand information from the kids on the impact the program has had on their lives, they can communicate that far better than any of the coaches.”

The first edition of the Breakfast of Champions sold out a week before the actual event, partially thanks to Slay’s presence, Williams said. He added that the number supporters in attendance was capped at 70 because of the size of the venue, but he suspects they would have sold out a larger venue as well.

“It’s energizing,” Williams said. “Everyone was interested in spending time with him. When we went into this, we didn’t know what to expect, but we actually sold out the event last week.”

Slay, who flew in from Detroit to meet and greet fans and students, forwent volunteer workouts to return to his hometown and support his cousin’s program.

Slay was still at Brunswick High when Williams’ program started up. Slay said he’s not much of a soccer player himself, but his son participates in the program and he’s seen first hand how COS has helped give local athletes opportunities beyond Brunswick.

“It means a lot, seeing kids getting scouted and educated and getting ahead of the game,” Slay said.

Williams said the fundraiser is a good building block for COS’ growing program, as the organization branches out to programs other than soccer.

“Over the last three months we’ve had tremendous growth, regarding out participation,” Williams said. “As we continue to look at being able to fully implement all our programs, it’s critical that we have this tip of event annually and continue to gain community awareness and support for what we’re doing. A lot of times people see us as the soccer program. It gives us the opportunity to share a vision.”