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Jumbo Johnson Media Youth Center - a Media Legacy

At MYC, two brothers continue the legacy of their father helping the community.

Article by Kari Tumminia and Karin Davidson

Photography by Jayne Toohey

Originally published in Media City Lifestyle

The Lewis Jumbo Johnson Media Youth Center strives to provide a safe environment for youth to expand their minds, grow their bodies, and have fun. They offer a variety of recreational and educational programs for youth in addition to partnership opportunities with the community… and have for over 50 years.

For over 20 years, brothers Lewis, Lawrence (Larry) and Anthony had the privilege of watching their father and the center’s namesake, Lewis “Jumbo” Johnson, run the Media Youth Center, serve on the Media Recreations board, volunteer at Rose Tree Colts and the Media Little League, and start the Media Petticoat League (now media Softball) and the Media Babe Ruth League.

Today, the brothers continue their father’s legacy, motivated to pass on the opportunities and valuable lessons that were given to them through their own experiences at the youth center.

Larry shared that “Being around him at a young age just made it secondhand nature to want to give back. Giving time to help people is one of the most precious things you can give. We all only have a certain amount of time on the earth. If you can give the time you have trying to make a positive impact on a child’s life, that is time well spent.” 

And ever since being involved in the Media Youth Center themselves as children, they’ve done exactly that. Unequivocally committed to the center’s mission and its continued growth, they now offer year-round basketball programs, Spring football, after-school tutoring and a robotics program, and even programs for adults, cheekily named the “Old and Slow Basketball Leagues” for men and women. 

But for the brothers, helping children is their true motivation… and second nature.

Anthony Johnson is on the basketball staff, refs games, does the book and clock, helps with clinics and has also coached different teams for a total of about 25-30 years. 

Lewis shared a touching story of his favorite moment in his years working at the center. “One of my favorite success stories [was when] a handicapped young man played in our program. He was so sweet and innocent and didn’t let his disability [keep] him [from the] joy [of] playing basketball. Watching his teammates and opponents help him during games was really heartwarming! [And] when he scored his first basket late in the season, THERE WASN’T A DRY EYE IN THE CENTER. That was a special moment.

Larry talks about growing up with MYC, "The greatest memory I have of MYC would have to be from my childhood.  On Sundays during our All-Star Tournaments my father, Mrs. Morris, Mrs. McLaughlin and Mrs. Heffernan would cook dinners for the teams who had later games.  Why? to have people from different areas of the region eat together (Ridley, Chester, Philly) but also because my father knew that for some of the kids this might be the only good meal they may have for the week.  Looking back as an adult and seeing kids and adults eating together in the 80s from different races and socioeconomic makes me realize we need more of this today."

Last year MYC received an amazing donation. Kevin, Dennis, and Brian Morris are alumni of MYC, and their mother, Betsy Morris Walters, were long-time members of the MYC board of directors. As part of the gift, the Media Youth Center changed its name to the Lewis “Jumbo” Johnson Media Youth Center.  The gift will provide a new permanent financial aid program that will ensure underprivileged kids the ability to join and participate in center activities regardless of ability to pay.

To find out more about MYC and the incredible legacy the leaders and staff at this organization are creating, visit MediaYouthCenter.com

Today, Lewis and Larry Johnson continue their father’s legacy, motivated to pass on the opportunities and valuable lessons they received.

  • Larry and Anthony Johnson