Raising Money for Youth Villages was what Charity Louisiana King Maples wanted for her 100th birthday and this group turned out for the fundraising walk-a-thon.

by Johnesha Harris, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

Family and friends of Charity Louisiana King Maples gathered in front of the entrance to the Big River Crossing on Monday afternoon to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Maples’ only wish for her birthday was to raise money for Youth Villages – a nonprofit dedicated to trouble youth – by raising money for a walk-a-thon that would take place on her actual birthday, June 4.

The walk-a-thon was put together by Maples’ family and her church, Apostolic Deliverance Temple. Maples’ granddaughter, Paulette Maples Douglas, and her son and ADT’s pastor, Apostle Perry Maples Jr., placed ads in news publications and on the radio to inform people about the event.

“She chose this particular organization because her passion is children,” Douglas said. “She told me that if we have educated, loving and dedicated mentors to teach them how to take care of themselves, then they would know how to take care of others.”

Maples, who was unable to attend the walk-a-thon, is a firm believer in putting God first and working to develop the youth into people who can take care of others and their community.

Many of her family members assembled for the walk. A group of Maples’ nieces dressed in pink, Maples’ favorite color and the color theme for the event.

“We are out here to celebrate our aunt and her cause,” said Vilencia Pierce, Maples’ great niece. “It is her birthday and we wanted to make sure her wish came true.”

ADT rented a bus to transport people from the church lot to the bridge to avoid parking issues. Other participants met them at the crossing entrance with balloons. The walk started at the entrance on the Memphis side of the Big River Crossing; participants walked the bridge, touched the gates at the Arkansas end and headed back to the starting point.

The group raised $1,000 for Youth Villages. Participants or donors were asked to give $20 dollars for a shirt and a walking pass for the bridge.

A pre-birthday dinner was held in Maples honor at the ADT Dining Hall at 1369 Norris Rd. on Saturday evening. Maples was there, dressed in some of her finest.

“I knew y’all loved me,” Maples said as she surveyed the gathering. “I love all of y’all; all of my children, my grand-children and is many as there is to come.”

The matriarch is the daughter of the late Perry Maples Sr., who often was referred to as “The Prophet.” She was born in Mississippi on June 4, 1918.

Maples had some sage direction for those showering her with love.

“Don’t forget that the Lord told his disciples to pray” she said, flowing into an animated recitation of the “Lord’s Prayer.”

The 100th birthday celebration will be ongoing, with her family recommitting to make sure she is made as comfortable as possible.