KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Police Athletic League of Kansas City serves hundreds of kids each month. A team of two Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department officers, two sergeants and a captain tend to the children's needs.
KCPD Sgt. Dion Rentie is being recognized for his devotion to those kids and his story of perseverance.
"There's not a kid that comes through these doors that don't feel the same love and care that I felt as a kid," Rentie said.
Growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rentie's dad wasn't around and his mom worked hard to provide for him and his siblings.
But it wasn't long before he was hanging out with the wrong crowd.
"Quickly got me into a lifestyle of trouble, doing bad things at a very young age," Rentie said.
One day, Rentie and his friends were playing football in the middle of the street when two Tulsa police officers pulled up. While some of his buddies ran away, Rentie stayed.
"The cops got out of the car, and the first officer raised his hand and said, 'Hey, I'm open.' So we were like, 'Wow!' We started playing catch," he said.
At the end of the game, the officers invited Rentie to stop by a place very similar to PAL.
"It was a place of refuge, it was safe, we didn't have to worry about the gunshots," Rentie said. "We didn't have to worry about fighting. And we didn't have to worry about being hungry."
Eventually, those two officers weren't strangers.
"It was no longer just 'the police,' I got to know them by name. They knew me by name, they asked about my grades," he said.
It put Rentie on the right path and inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement — first patrolling the streets in Oklahoma then joining KCPD 17 years ago.
Within the last two years at PAL, Rentie has brought back the food service program so kids can get a hot meal.
"What we do matters, and what we do works. It saved my life," he said.
And it's not going unnoticed.
On Wednesday, KCPD Chief Rick Smith awarded Rentie the "Chief's Coin" that recognizes efforts that go above and beyond.
"I was emotional because I know what it meant, I'm not out here for any recognition," Rentie said. "I'm just out here to do my part and trying to make this city, this department the best it can be."