Corey Freeman should have turned 24 years old this Sunday.
But his life was cut short in February when he was killed in a car accident on Route 48 in Southold.
Freeman wasn't the only local young person to tragically lose his life this year. His close friend, Jefferson "Naquawn" Treadwell, was killed in July in an East Marion dirt bike accident.
"We've lost a lot of young people at a really fast rate, one after another," said Freeman's 27-year-old cousin, Crystal Anderson. "Something has to be changed for the young people to know that we care about them and that we hear them. Being that I'm a mom I am really passionate about that."
It is that passion that prompted Anderson to find a way to honor her cousin's memory by giving back, not only to the community, but to its youth. So, she, along with Corey's girlfriend Nicole Ellerson, and his sisters, Charmaine and Ebony, established the Forever Young Foundation, dedicated to creating a healthy and fun environment for the youth of the community.
"We came up with the name because we have lost so many young people and that's how we will always remember them," Anderson said. "It's about preserving life, investing in life, and investing in our children for tomorrow."
The foundation's first goal is to raise enough money to improve the Third Street basketball court in Greenport, a place that was very special to Corey and countless other local kids.
"For the minorities in our community, the Third Street basketball court has always been the place to be," she said. "Corey would get off work, with his gym shorts in his bag, and go right down there to play."
Crystal says that the court is where all the kids meet up and it has always been a place where they could hang out and be themselves.
"(The village) wanted to move the court to the skate park, but that's like taking the heart out of the body and putting it somewhere else," Anderson said. "If your heart needs repair, you fix it. You don't get rid of it."
The courts need an overhaul, she said, adding that the existing baskets are not regulation size and that it isn't even surfaced properly.
The goal? Turn it into a beautiful, drug-free place they can be proud of.
The first fundraiser, dedicated to the memory of both Corey and Naquawn, is being held on Oct. 22. There will be a dinner at the Third Street firehouse at 6 p.m., followed by a concert at Townsend Manor Inn. Tickets to the dinner are $20. Tickets to the concert are $25. For a ticket to both events, the cost is $40.
Anderson said that a number of local officials have put their support behind the foundation and will be in attendance Friday night, including Greenport Mayor David Nyce, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, State Assemblyman Marc Alessi, and Southold Police Capt. Martin Flatley. Performers at the concert include Mike Check, Bigg Premiere with Toast Da MC, Deuce, Kopy-Koo and Whitney Evens.
Anderson said that the basketball court rehabilitation project is the first of many she will take on.
For tickets to one or both of Friday's events, call 631-566-7737.