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 Ed Deeb, right, is presented with a shirt, the last from a fundraiser that took place four years earlier, during the commemoration of Edward Deeb Avenue on Belle Isle July 6.

Ed Deeb, right, is presented with a shirt, the last from a fundraiser that took place four years earlier, during the commemoration of Edward Deeb Avenue on Belle Isle July 6.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


Belle Isle road renamed in honor of Metro Detroit Youth Day founder

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published July 23, 2018

 The sign for Edward Deeb Avenue is unveiled on Belle Isle. It was renamed in honor of Ed Deeb, the founder of Metro Detroit Youth Day, which has taken place on Belle Isle since 1981.

The sign for Edward Deeb Avenue is unveiled on Belle Isle. It was renamed in honor of Ed Deeb, the founder of Metro Detroit Youth Day, which has taken place on Belle Isle since 1981.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

DETROIT — Dignitaries, friends and family gathered on Belle Isle July 6 to honor Ed Deeb, the founder of Metro Detroit Youth Day, and witness the unveiling of a new sign renaming a street on the island as “Edward Deeb Avenue.”

Metro Detroit Youth Day began as an idea of Deeb’s in 1981, when he was the head of the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, to help inspire kids to make good decisions for their futures and to get the local business community more invested in the upbringing of local youths.

In the last 37 years, it has grown into an event that has hosted 2 million kids and given out more than 2,000 college scholarships.

“When it came to changing the road (Vista Drive) to Ed’s name, it was a no-brainer,” said Karis Floyd, the manager for Belle Isle Park. “Ed’s commitment to the community and knowing about everything he’s done made this a very easy decision.”

Among those who spoke at the presentation was the Rev. V. Lonnie Peek, the assistant pastor of Greater Christ Baptist Church, who is a longtime friend and collaborator with Deeb.

“When you think about Ed, you think about a smile,” said Peek. “A lot of people figure ways to say no. Ed figures out how to say yes. He pushes through the challenges; that’s his legacy.”

Several of the members of the Metro Detroit Youth Day Board were present at the ceremony to recognize Deeb and his accomplishments. Among them was Bruce Ross, who was among the Detroit youths to take part in the first Metro Detroit Youth Day.

“I was one of the first Metro Detroit Youth Day kids,” said Ross. “I didn’t know which way I was going to go — I could have gone in a bad direction. At Metro Detroit Youth Day, I talked to people about my future, I got to meet my idol, Lem Barney, from the Detroit Lions, which I couldn’t do before, because I couldn’t afford to go to the games, and most importantly, people talked to me about being a scholar. Because of Metro Detroit Youth Day, I found what I love to do, which is help kids find their own path. Ed’s a big part of why that happened.”

Floyd also took part in Metro Detroit Youth Day when he was younger and said that the care and concern Deeb has shown to the youths of Detroit made him more than worthy of having his name immortalized on the island.

“Ed always cared about kids,” he said. “To see him still so involved and to see his passion is wonderful. … We tried to keep this ceremony a secret from him — we were partially successful — because if we didn’t, he probably would have tried to run it himself.”

 Deeb said it was touching to see so many people come together in his honor. He was glad to see Belle Isle bouncing back.

“This day was overwhelming,” said Deeb. “I couldn’t believe all this was happening. It makes it extra special because I lived six blocks from Belle Isle, and it was frustrating to see it not being properly cared for. Now to see the (Department of Natural Resources) come in and build it back up — and have my name be a part of it — is so great.”

Metro Detroit Youth Day saw 40,000 young people attend on July 11. Deeb offered some advice for others to lead their best life; something he tries to do each day.

“I want young people to stay in school, lead a good example and make the world a better place,” he said. “For adults: pay attention to our young people, guide them, and encourage them to go to college and then come back to make Detroit better.”

Those who spoke at the event said there was perhaps no one in Detroit who is more inspiring to be around.

“He’s been a 50-year friend to me,” Peek said. “Being around him gives you momentum. The people you hang with determines a lot about how you act. He helps me do what I do. I’m honored to have him as a friend.”