SUMMERVILLE -- Tevan Green was a kid from a poor family in the Westside neighborhood in Charleston.
He caught a little public attention in the 1990s as a basketball player, but eventually gave it up. He might have been another lost cause, "dead or in jail, or at least struggling," in his own words.
On Saturday, retired Air Force Maj. Tevan Green, 33, will interrupt a week of business travel after winning a $6 million contract for his Citadel Logic LLC, to be a guest of honor at a black-tie affair in Summerville at the eighth annual Councilman's Ball.
Green's story is a big part of what this ball is all about.
Once a year, residents in Brownsville and nearby neighborhoods put out a feast and invite folks for an evening of music, feel-good and networking. Everyone goes.
U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn has made an appearance. All three mayoral candidates in the town election Tuesday plan to appear.
They don't have a lot of wiggle room. The ball is put on by the District 1 Civic Association, maybe the first residents' group in Summerville to represent an entire voting district.
The association formed eight years ago in the historically black community, immediately seated an upset candidate against a long-standing Town Council member and became the new factor in what was an old-ways town.
In a place where a few votes can swing an election, there is no other bloc like the District 1 group.
The inaugural ball was the brainchild of one of the association's leaders, Dexcter Mack, who saw it as a community-building gathering to honor the new councilman, Aaron Brown, and a way to raise funds.
Flattered but a little embarrassed, Brown suggested that future events should spotlight others who make an impact in their communities.
It's become "a Cinderella-type thing," Brown said, where everyday people get a chance to socialize with movers and shakers they don't usually see, talk to them about what's going on in their community, and get inspired by what they have achieved. Hundreds attend.
Beginning this year, the ball also will help fund scholarships for low-income kids.
This year's honorees are 14 entrepreneurs, ages 18 to 45, who have made an impact on the business world. Green is one of them. His mother-in-law, Ruth Walker, lives in town and he visits regularly.
After Green retired as an Air Force deputy supply chief and flight commanding officer, he started up Citadel Logics, a consulting company for logistics such as emergency management communications, cyber and energy security.
He is more than qualified. Among other Air Force duties, he was responsible for Special Operations logistics in Afghanistan, where he won a bronze medal.
A graduate of The Citadel, Green owes a lot of his success to a group of retired men in the Westside community who took him under their wing as a teen, getting him involved in a midnight basketball program to keep him out of trouble. His court and football skills got him noticed, but he struggled in local schools.
The men pooled some money, called some contacts and arranged for Green to take the entrance test at Episcopal High School in Virginia, a prestigious private school. The scores were jaw-dropping high and Green was on his way.
He's coming Saturday to give back.
"I think about it every day. Dead or in jail, or at best struggling. I ask the question all the time, why me? The only thing I can come up with is there were good people who took care of me, and I tried to be a good person. These people actually cared," Green said.
"I personally feel I'm the luckiest person in Charleston. The people who come from 'the other side of the tracks,' the wealthy side of the tracks, they couldn't pay for the lessons I learned," he said.