WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Two childhood friends, who took two different paths, teamed up to helps others and prove good influence matters.
Gary Cook and Kajuan Vinson started a non-profit called "Peer to Peer." While the focus is helping the elderly, single parents and underprivileged families, they also use the platform to reach local kids.
Cook is not proud of his past that includes a life of crime but he is not ashamed to talk about it. He hopes he can now be a positive role model to young people just like Vinson, the friend who inspired him to dedicate his time to helping others.
"I ran with a street gang but as I got older, I went to prison and did time," Cook said. "I had a lot of time to think about my wrongs."
Cook reached out to Vinson, one of the few positive influences in his life, with the idea of starting a non-profit.
"We go way back to little league football, The Little Leopards, back in the 80s," Cook said. "That was my quarterback and I was his running back."
Vinson still leads the line as Cook's quarterback.
"It was a mountain to keep him going because he gets frustrated easy," Cook said. "He'll be like I'm through this 'Ahhhhh ahh."
Now four years later, they are doing all they can together through Peer to Peer.
"We'll go to the elderlies and give them free yard cuts and do different things around the house that we can help out with," Vinson said.
Their latest project is cleaning up the Eastlawn Cemetery.
"I appreciate these men," Vinson said. "These young men and my kids out here doing this."
Peer to Peer might help others but Cook said it saved his life.
"This is probably where I would've ended up, prison or here."
A life saved thanks to a little love. Which is what Peer to Peer is looking to continue by giving kids something positive to be involved in, so they stay away from a life on the streets.
Everything the men do is out of their own pocket. They said they appreciate any donation no matter how small. They said they are looking to start an annual three-on-three blacktop basketball tournament starting in June for the children.
The tournament will run from June 16th to the 17th. There will be multiple divisions for each age range. You can find more details and register here.