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Kara Bright was a man with a dream. A dream he never lived to see become a reality, but with the help of four of his closest friends, his dream to create a non-profit organization is finally coming true. With that, The Brightway Center, a non-profit organization geared toward Christian student athletes, has been created.
One of those individuals is the treasurer, George Spack. George was my former high school teacher, who grew to become one of my dearest friends, and biggest role models. And if any one reading this article could have the honor of meeting him, they would wholeheartedly agree. Including myself, George has inspired his students to become everything they could become by pushing them to their utmost potential.
George met Kara Bright in 1984 at a college basketball game. The two had a strong bond from the start, and both shared a vision to impact student athletes in a positive way. George did not re-connect with Kara until twelve years later in 1996.
Like George, Kara was a teacher and basketball coach, as well as a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Coach Bright, whose nickname was Cobby, attended Ohio State University and then left to serve 17 months in the Korean War. After he returned from battle, Kara decided to go back to school and get his Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Mississippi. Over Kara’s career, he taught and coached a variety of sports including basketball, football and track before his retirement in 1987.
As Kara’s health deteriorated, he asked George to become the executor of his estate. George and Daryle Griffin, a dear friend of Kara’s, went to the hospital to visit Kara, where Kara repeated his vision for the Brightway Center. He passed away a few days later in 2005.
His four close friends, who became most dedicated to upholding Kara’s dream and Brightway’s future, included George, Clifton Spinner, Jon Swires, and the President and CEO of Brightway, Daryle Griffin. As a Christian, Kara put his utmost trust in these four charter members, by leaving his life savings in order to help create the Brightway Center. Brightway consists of nearly two hundred acres of land located near Smithfield, Ohio, a dream Kara wanted to achieve his entire lifetime.
Kara once said, “The biggest reward is getting calls and letters from young people who remember the life changing experiences of our FCA retreats.” Kara also added that, “We need to show more compassion. We need to teach kids to think for themselves, instead of following the crowd or popular opinion blindly.” And with those words, that is exactly what the charter members decided to do.
In order to get the program underway as soon as possible, the Board of Directors decided to put its first focus on “The Homestead,” which involved the renovation of Kara Bright’s farmhouse where he lived most of his life. The Homestead houses Brightway’s administrative offices in addition to special events, educational programming, open houses and workshops.
The Brightway Center will give Christian student athletes a place to retreat, in order to examine and grow their faith, improve their minds and promote healthier living. It will also give them the opportunity to seek higher education, an opportunity that they might not have had without the Brightway Center.
Brightway’s plans for 2012 include fundraising for the Pavilion, a large project that is expected to be completed in 2013. The Pavilion will hold a capacity of up to 350 people for weddings, retreats, tournaments, corporate meetings and senior citizen gatherings.
The Brightway Center will be presenting a 5K Obstacle Benefit Race called “Race for the Roc” on Saturday June 9th, 2012 at the Memorial Park in Salem, Ohio. To sign up, go to www.racefortheroc.com.
To make a donation to the Brightway Center or to learn more about Brightway’s mission, please go to www.BrightwayCenter.org.
Also, Brightway would like to give a special thanks to board members Steve Luke and Michael Madison as well as Jennifer Trehar, Director of Advancement and Cathy Takach, Director of Property Management, for dedicating themselves in order to make Kara’s vision come true.
Sherry Matthews, a volunteer for Brightway and friend of Kara’s once said, “Now we’re going to see the results, Cobby, of the seeds that you planted, for all the children who you loved so much.” It looks like Cobby is going to continue impacting children in a positive way, as his legacy lives on through the Brightway Center.