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Marion native D.J. Rowell’s Rock'em Nation basketball camp returns for sixth year

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MARION, S.C. – More than 190 children worked on their basketball skills with volunteers at the Shannon Wilkerson Gymnasium in Marion for the week-long sixth annual D.J. Rowell Foundation Rock’em Nation Basketball Camp.

The Marion native and former Marion High School basketball star said he wanted the group to have an experience they will always remember.

“As you get older your imagination shrinks,” he said. “I want their imagination to grow as they grow, by coming back to do what I do, I’m able to show them and inspire them to do the same thing.”

Rowell said he’s excited about the growth of the camp running from Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and highlighted with a Friday night charity game at the gym.

“We’re really excited about this camp,” Rowell said. “These kids take a sense of pride, a sense of integrity and a sense of character.”

Participants look forward to the event every summer, he said.

“It means everything,” Rowell. “I’m from Marion County and this is where I grew up and to have an outlet and some type of platform to be motivated is all you can ask for as a kid.”

Participants get to enjoy a full day of activities, including free breakfast, lunch and snacks from the concession stand along with learning the basics in the game of basketball, he said.

“You have to learn to grow together and you have to learn to get along together,” Rowell. “You have to learn to be the best version yourself so the team can be the best version of itself and that’s why I love the game of basketball. This sport gives an absolute joy to my spirit.”

Rowell said he wants to continue impacting children in the years ahead.

“This is incredible for Marion County to have a camp like this,” he said. “When you have a positive influence that’s our chance to captivate and audience and give them a chance to grow.”

Rowell called his volunteers super heroes putting the camp together.

“Everybody has been so instrumental and I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “It’s a community and it really does take a village.”

The D.J. Rowell Foundation also contributes to children off the court, delivering stuff animals and more items to McLeod Health Children’s Hospital during Christmas.

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Born in Atlantic City; raised in Mullins. Graduated from SC State University, home of the mighty Bulldogs. Editor of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Loves spending free time with his daughter. Huge sports fan.

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