Heroes Camp started in 1989 in the 300 block of West Jefferson Boulevard in South Bend after Pat promised a group of kids that he'd buy a new pair of sneakers for anyone who could beat him in a game of one-on-one. About 60 kids showed up for the challenge.
None of them could top Pat in basketball, but they did send him and B.J. on what so far has been a 22-year journey of ministry through sport and scripture, primarily to black boys who don't have fathers in their lives.
"We both had great fathers," B.J. said, "so we know the value."
She added that Pat has become a father figure to many of the boys at Heroes Camp. "They call him 'Dad,' they call him 'Pops,' " she said, "and they don't say that loosely."
Since 2007, Heroes Camp has operated in a building on Hickory Road, just north of Edison Road, in Mishawaka. The organization offers recreation, food, clothing, shelter, tutoring, counseling and haircuts to anywhere between 50 and 200 youths per day.
Pat estimated that 100,000 boys -- some from as far away as Gary, Detroit and Florida -- have participated in Heroes Camp over the years.
"Heroes Camp," he said, "is my expression and contribution and impartation that I got from Dr. King."
When asked how it felt to be honored in the Statehouse with an award bearing King's name, he said, with tears in his eyes, "Humbling, very humbling."
B.J., who was raised in Macon, Ga., in the 1950s and '60s, said, "To grow up in the South and really have an affinity to what Dr. Martin Luther King stands for, it's a great honor."
The Magleys both took a leap of faith and left other jobs to make Heroes Camp their mission. Obviously, they've landed on their feet.
"We put some ambitious goals to the side," B.J. said, "to do something that God told us to do spiritually and keep something like a dream alive."
Staff writer Kevin Allen: email@example.com; 574-235-6244