MULLINS, SC (WMBF) - On Sunday, in Mullins, nearly 2,000 people filled a gym for one man who gave everything for everyone.
"By far, Mark Gerald is one of the greatest guys I've ever known," said brother-in-law Penn Troy.
Mark Gerald coached the boy's basketball team at Mullins High School for 25 years. On September third, he lost his longtime battle against cancer.
"He treated everyone with respect and love and that's why you saw a lot of people turn out today for this service," said former player Shawn Nelson.
There wasn't an empty seat to be had as thousands filled the bleachers right behind where Gerald coached for so many years. Friends, family, and even strangers came to pay their respects and help his legacy live on.
"If it wasn't for him, I don't think I would have gone on to college and become successful today," said Nelson.
Shawn Nelson is one of the many people Gerald helped both on and off the court. On top of basketball, Gerald taught him about manhood, perseverance, and uplifting others.
Now Shawn, along with many others, are hoping to instill those values in other kids around the area.
"I want to give kids the opportunity that I had through Coach Gerald," said Nelson.
Earlier this year former players of Gerald started the Make Your Mark Foundation to help mentor kids around Mullins and the Pee Dee. They plan to follow in Gerald's footsteps by helping local kids through basketball.
They will also help to fund scholarships so local kids can attend college.
"He did more in that short 55 years than a lot of people do in 90," said Troy.
While there will never be another like Coach Mark Gerald, the men say if they can live one tenth of the life he did, the community will be in a better place.
"Even though he's not here, he will be here in spirit, and he will live through us, and we will make sure his name lives on forever here in Mullins and Pee Dee area," Nelson said.
The Make Your Mark foundation will hold the Mark Gerald Memorial weekend next year as a way to remember his life and help raise money for scholarships.