It’s been awhile since Jackie Joyner-Kersee ran a race.

"'98 was my real competitive," says Jackie.

In fact, many of today’s youth don’t even know she was an Olympian.

"And he like, is that you?" laughs Jackie.

But, she is helping them win a race. The race to success.

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"Might have not walked in their shoes. But we have walked in similar shoes in trying to be the best that we can be," says Jackie.

This is where she works to instill youngsters in East St Louis with drive and determination.

"We really really trying to work on character development, leadership," she says.

There are fields of dreams here. But, athletics are not the number one focus.

"We use sports as a hook to get them in her but sports is not the only avenue. You need to be a critical thinker. You gotta understand when you're putting yourself at risk and what risk-taking can do. The consequence of it but also the rewards of it when you are critically thinking positively," she says.

Driving those points home means the usually pleasant JJK can get a little tough.

"It's tough love. I'm showing I care for you and I really want to see you reach your full potential," she says.

And there are needs here.

"I'm auntie Jackie. I'm mama Jackie. Can I come home with you Jackie?" laughs JJK.

More than 2 thousand youngsters use their services.

"On an average day we have about 165, yes, and that number is steadily growing," says Jackie.

But, to keep things running, it takes more than Jackie’s name. It takes money. And this week’s sneaker gala is a big deal.

"It helps to fun the programs we do here year in and year out," says Jackie.

Just as she relied on coaches to achieve her Olympic dream, she needs the community to assist her in continuing to help these youngsters achieve theirs.

"I think that it's crucial to nurture the dream and to believe in an impossible."