0306-Johnny Nolen.jpg

Submitted / The Outlook Johnny Nolen has been helping Benjamin Russell sports and youth sports in Alexander City for several decades and now the community is trying to give back to him by building him and his mother a dream home.

A small mistake has forced organizers to restart a campaign to build local sports enthusiast Johnny Nolen a new home.

In March organizers started a GoFundMe campaign to help construct a home for Nolen and his mother as their home is not in good shape.

“We had more than $13,000 there,” assistant City of Alexander City clerk Tiffany Patterson said. “The bank account wasn’t linked correctly. We couldn’t get anyone at GoFundMe on the phone or to respond by email because of COVID-19 to help us correct the problem. Ultimately, GoFundMe refunded all the donations.”

Patterson said a new GoFundMe campaign has been set up — this time with bank account information set up correctly.

“We ask you to resubmit your donation,” Patterson said. “We really want to make this happen. There is also an account set up at River Bank & Trust if people would rather donate in person.”

Everyone who knows Nolen seems to have a story about him. The stories always involve Nolen, who is at nearly every local sporting event, being around kids and sports complexes with a smile. Nolen started helping out with local sports decades ago and since then has become an integral part of the community.

Alexander City Parks and Recreation Department director Sonny Wilson began organizing the effort in March and feels this is a way to show Nolen what he means to the community. Even if it’s a small donation, Wilson encourages all to support the cause.

“I don’t care if it’s $1,” Wilson said in March. “Everything matters. Johnny means something to everybody, and you won’t find one person in this community that will say something bad about Johnny.”

In addition to businesses donating everything from appliances to paint, the GoFundMe goal is $20,000.

Wilson said Nolen was “tickled to death” when he first heard about the plans for his new home, which will be built near the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex.

“What better place to build than where Johnny spends every day somewhere in this Sportplex?” Wilson said.

GoFundMe allows for anonymous donations but Wilson encourages people to include their name or organization because he wants Nolen to see the outpouring of love and support. Wilson also said businesses or individuals can donate time or supplies if they’d rather and can contact him at w2ironworks@gmail.com.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.