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Indianapolis Colts hosts graduation party for students in foster care

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Posted at 11:24 PM, Jun 18, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Graduation is a time to celebrate and honor years of hard work and dedication. It is a memorable milestone that can sometimes be tough for those who are without loved ones to share the accomplishment with.

The Indianapolis Colts, along with Cargo Services and Meijer hoped to fill that gap for some, honoring foster care high school grads.

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"I'm here today because of how bad I wanted to be here. I say that because of how badly I wanted to graduate. How badly I wanted to be the first one to graduate. I'm the first one out of four generations to graduate high school," Patrick Collier, Colts Foster Care graduate said.

Collier spent most of his life in and out of the foster care system.

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"It hasn't been perfect. It hasn't been an easy road, and it hasn't been something I shy away from," Collier said.

At the age of 13, he met Kareem Hines with New Boy, an organization he says helped him push through his situation.

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"He's like a father to me. I never had a father figure in my life. I looked up to my older brother to be that because I wanted him to be that, but life happens," Collier said.

Collier said his case worker nominated him and his peers voted him into the Colts foster care graduate class, allowing his path to cross General Manager Chris Ballard and his wife Kristin.

The Ballards started this foster care graduation in 2016 with just four graduates, now they average more than 20 grads a year with a long waiting list.

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"With the challenges they have to overcome and all the things they have to do they actually get to celebrate something in the end," Kristin said.

The Ballards became foster parents in 2010, eventually adopting two of their foster children.

"It's not their fault. They got born into a situation that just wasn't advantageous for them so for them to be at this moment where they're graduating in a few of them going on to college some of them on the trade school from on the job there's nothing that's going to be put in their way between that had they haven't already overcome," Chris said.

"One thing I hope that these kids walk out with tonight is, you're not in this alone," Steve Fugate, Owner of Cargo Services said.

"That's why I go hard with my nonprofit, that's why I go hard being a junior mentor, that's why I wanted to graduate early. That's why I'm going to college, I'm not stopping at graduating, that's what I want," Collier said.

Collier said he's going to take a gap year because he wants to take some time and do something for himself, but he says he wants to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and has his eyes set on Central State University.