ROCHESTER N.Y. — One man’s story to inspire became a reality during the first annual ‘Rochester Black Men Achieve Awards’ & Gala Saturday night.

“As a kid growing up, my father actually was killed in the city when I was 11 years old,” says President and Founder of the ROC BMA Awards Jermaine Myers.

He adds, “Just like me and my story, there are thousands of young boys in our city who experience the same thing. We wanted to pull everybody together to see how we can help our young men.”

The award ceremony acknowledges the vast contributions in illuminating positive change and difference in the community where men and boys of color are honored and recognized.

“It’s a complete honor to be in the presence of many successful black men throughout Monroe County. I think it’s also equally important to bring our sons and daughters to these events,” said father in attendance, Dr. Shaun Nelms.

His daughter Alexia Nelms adds “It makes me feel like I can contribute; that I can be a part of the change in the community as well.”

Each award has been divided into 26 categories — recognizing individuals and/or organizations for their commitment in enhancing life for others, those categories ranging in business, education, government and entertainment, as well as public & community service.

Zaire Downs, a 14-year-old who was nominated for ‘Future Young Man of the Year,’ says he wants to continue in his efforts in fundraising and inspiring his peers after the award ceremony.

“I’m starting a foundation so kids in the city of Rochester can start their own big ideas like I did,” said Downs.

The goal was to have at least 500 people attend— with nearly 800 tickets bought, it was a sold-out venue, making the night a success.

Moving forward, Myers says it is the hope and brotherhood at the awards that the message will spread and inspire other men to contribute to uplifting local youth.

“They need help, and it takes village to raise a child so we’re asking all the brothers to come together so that we can come together and help our young men succeed,” said Myers.