Published on January 14, 2022

Healthy Community Commission Grant a Knockout for Helping At-Risk Children

Groves' knockout photoEric Groves’ longtime mission has been to give back to the community. The Danville native came to Joliet and set up Groves Boxing And Fitness, 557 N. Scott St., to help people get in shape.

But, that wasn’t quite enough. Groves said he was seeing kids from the neighborhood come in who were critically obese.

“The boxing is kind of a carrot to bring them in,” said the former boxer (“Yeah, I was good.”) and Joliet Junior College football coach. “But I really want to focus on health.”

“One 9-year-old boy who came in weighed 226 pounds, and he was short. We’ve had others who were in the 190s.”

For several years, Groves tried to help using his own funds. He would provide education to kids on healthy eating habits, as well as an opportunity to work out, there and at home.

Groves also provided backpacks with school supplies and organized field trips for the kids.

But his own money started to run out. That’s when he formed a 501 (c)(3) organization and submitted a grant to the Silver Cross Healthy Community Commission for funding. 

The Silver Cross HCC was launched by Silver Cross Hospital Board of Trustees in 2008 as a not-for-profit organization committed to creating a stronger, healthier future by providing support for education, workforce development training, and enrichment activities for youth, to improve the quality of life on Joliet’s east side.

Since 2008, the Commission has awarded over $2.4 million in educational scholarships, workforce development, and quality of life grants to numerous east-side Joliet residents and organizations such as: Alpha Kappa Alpha – Tealight Foundation; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; Community Services Council of Will County; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Forest Park Community Center; Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana; Lebanon Baptist District Association; National Hook-up For Black Women; The Harvey Brooks Foundation, Play for Rings, Inc.; Redeemed Connection; Senior Services of Will County; Spanish Community Center; and the University of St. Francis.

Groves said some members of the HCC board visited his Scott Street gym after receiving his grant application.

“They must have liked what they saw,” he said. “They blessed me with a grant. That will help me help even more children.

Groves has committed the past 20 years of his life to helping and mentoring the youth. Besides boxing, Fighting Chance will also strive to help youth by:

  • Promoting both mental and physical health awareness,
  • Providing opportunities for educational and career exploration,
  • Teaching how to foster and build healthy social skills and interpersonal relationships with others,
  • Training on self-regulation, coping and conflict resolution skills,
  • Training on financial literacy and empowerment

"Our goal is to cultivate an environment where children will have a Fighting Chance to not only survive, but be able to thrive in every aspect of their lives.

“But it’s weird asking other people for money. I’ve been used to doing it on my own. But the kids will benefit from this.”

If others want to help, Groves said people can make out a donation to Fighting Chance Foundation. Those interested in participating in his program – for youth ages 8 to 18 -- can reach out by phone, 815-540-8696, or by email, fightingchancenfp@gmail.com.

For more information on the Silver Cross Healthy Community Commission, email SCHHCC@silvercross.org.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.