Dear Burlsworth Family,
I am thirteen years old. There is no way I can thank you for the gift you have given me, the gift of sight. My mom is a single mother of two. She is going to school to have fluent English. She has a master's degree and is very intelligent. She has to pay lots of money to go learn English. We would have had a difficult time buying my glasses, but thanks to you and your foundation, we were able to get them for free.
I did not know my vision was bad. I thought everyone saw the same way I did. When we took the vision exams in school I could not read a single letter! The school nurse told me about your foundation and the story of Brandon Burlsworth. I found it extremely inspiring. I did not know him personally but would have loved to. He was a great person not only in the football field but also in everyday life. He was a great Christian and it seems that he had a genuinely good personality. I love the glasses he used to wear. I have not had the privilege to read his book but did read a lot about him on the internet. I hope to buy the book soon and I can't wait to see the movie.
After the nurse told me the story I was almost in years (it takes lots to make me cry). When I went to the optometrist they told me I need glasses and that I was nearsighted. He told me it would take two weeks to get my glasses in. You know the feeling you used to get the night before Christmas when you wanted to open the presents? Well that is exactly how I felt. The two weeks were agonizing! Finally the call came to let me know that my glasses were in. My mom and I rushed to the optometrist and when I put on my glasses I burst in to tears. I was shocked that the world was so clear. All the way home I read the signs that I had not been able to see before. My mom actually told me to be quiet because she got annoyed of me reading all the signs. I could see the pink Braum's sign and could actually read it!! Naturally all my grades improved from high B's to A's. I have all pre-A.P classes and Algebra (there are no A.P classes yet). So again thank you for everything!!
I just wanted to say thank you. I graduated from The UofA College of Business in 2000, and the first time you awarded The Brandon Burlsworth Scholarship I was a recipient.
I cannot begin to thank you enough for the helping hand. God has really blessed me. But I want you to know that I have ALWAYS been conscious of the fact that Brandon's life played a role in my successes, and I owe a great deal to y'all.
I used to wish I could give it all back so you could have your son back, but then something happened to me in 2005 - a car accident. A man changing a CD in his car hit me without ever hitting his brakes. Afterwards I was in the rehab hospital getting injections in my spine when I coded, and I went to Heaven. I don't know if you want to hear about it or if I'm upsetting you, which I don't want to do. I will just say this, that all I have wanted since then was to go back to Heaven permanently. I'm not suicidal or anything, and I want to accomplish God's will for me on earth, but I'm SO looking forward to finishing what I'm supposed to do here so I can get back there where my REAL life begins! It's THAT wonderful...so much that I crave it every day!
I was friends with a lot of Brandon's friends, and hearing what they used to tell me about him, I know his REAL life has begun, and there are no words for how blissful he is.
I have wept for y'all for how much you miss such an amazing part of your life, but ever since I experienced a bit of Heaven, I have celebrated for Brandon!
With great appreciation and longing for eternity with our God and Savior, Jenise Huffman
Hello! Our school services 1200+ students in grades 7-9. I have always been a great football fan and grew up during the Brandon Burlsworth era. My husband founded the Greers Ferry Lake Area Razorback Club and is friends with the Burlsworth family. I have heard about this foundation on several occasions but never really experienced the impact until this year. For the most part our school student population would not be considered lower socio-economic but we do have students that struggle to have daily supplies much less a pair of glasses, yet their educational experience and performance would be greatly enhanced if that need could be met. This year, through the Burlsworth Foundation, I have been able to meet the needs of these students on more than one occasion. However, there is one occasion that stands out in my mind. I enrolled a student of Hispanic background who her and her brother are being raised by a single parent. Mom works long hours and it is all that she can do to provide clothing and food for her children. Upon enrollment I learned from the previous school that this young lady had had academic difficulties and was very shy. Through talking and observing this student she struggled with a poor self esteem and I noticed she worked harder in the classroom at trying not to be noticed than she worked to learn the material. She struggled to read the board and sat very hunched in her chair. Through the Burlsworth Foundation I was able to provide for her a free vision exam and free glasses. I just saw this student last week with her new glasses and a fresh hair cut. She was smiling and hard a work when I went to watch her science class do their frog dissections. A lot of times as educators we get caught up in the success stories of those who excel at everything, however I feel that it is a true accomplishment when you can take someone, with a little help, show them a world that they have never seen and then watch them do things that they never thought was possible. I have commented to my husband and several other throughout the school year of what great mission the Burlsworth Foundation has in our state with our youth. It makes my day a little brighter and my job a little easier. Thank you! Gynger Campbell, School Counselor, Cabot Junior High North
OMG!! This is a God send to our school!! We have had several students that would have went without eye exams or glasses without The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation! Thank you so very much for ALL you do!!! Sincerely, Cindy York, R.N. (school nurse), Hermitage School District, Hermitage, AR 71647
I am a school nurse in South Arkansas and our area has had such a economic hardship with so many plants closing and families having to struggle with finding jobs and not able pay their monthly bills. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation helped a family in my school district that was not able to afford the eye exam or the purchase of glasses. The child was able to have an eye exam and receive glasses through this program. I think this organization is a blessing for the school nurses to have this resource to refer parents that are having a hard time financially. Elizabeth, Harmony Grove
This program is very beneficial for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Without assistance, these children would suffer greatly because their eyesight is very important to their learning. Because the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation provides eye exams and glasses for these students, it promotes success and achievement because they have improved vision to be able to see and learn the things they need to know. As a very nearsighted person, I understand the importance of good eyesight. In elementary school, I too suffered because I could not see what the teacher had written on the board or read as well because I couldn't see the words clearly. When I finally received my eyeglasses, it was like opening a new world for me, and I realized what I had missed out on. I believe that my improved eyesight is the reason I am where I am today, and my hope is that the Murphy grant you are applying for is approved. Thank you so much for giving our students this wonderful lifetime experience. Sandy Hollingsworth, Hermitage Elementary Counselor
You have done so much for children in our area. I want to praise you on the new website. It works so fast! We had an approval almost instantly. I will absolutely support your organization! Thank You, Amy Tracy LPN CCHS Nurse
Thank you so much for your wonderful program!! Your program makes my job so much easier and enjoyable to know the kids are getting the help they need! Thank you once again for all your time and your great program! Michele
"Thanks Vickie, boy you work fast and most graciously. Please know that this is truly a blessing from your family; both to me and to the students! With much thanks," Shannon
Thank you very much and have a wonderful weekend! This student truly needed your help. The family is going to have to file for bankruptcy. It's a sad story, thanks again, Lucinda
Thank you so much, I will let them know today, this probably just made their world a whole lot brighter. Dad is raising both kids by himself and having a hard time. God bless you, Janet
Vickie, Thank you so much!! Aaron and his mom are going to be so happy to hear this. What a wonderful thing you all are doing. :-) Amy
Thanks, you are a shining star in a world that has become hard to stay afloat in. I have more children in need of glasses. May you remain save and in Gods favor. Rachel
I wish you could have seen her smile in the hall this morning with her new glasses! It was priceless and so is this program. You will never know....but thank you anyway. Kam
Sounds great.. I know that this family is really having a hard time and at one point a while back I think they were homeless so this will help so so much. Thanks again! Amy
I spoke to his Great aunt who just became a guardian for him and his sister. She said that she and her husband removed Landon and his sister from foster care. This family really needs the help getting started on taking care of these children. Once again thanks for all you do, Wendy
There are hard times for everyone. When I was younger, my father and I were really going through some hard times. I was in the first grade and every Friday I would be sent home from school with a backpack of food so I could eat something during the weekend. My dad often had to work late, and I really didn't know how to cook, so I had this backpack of food that I could eat. When I was in the second grade, I broke my glasses. My dad worked a long time to save up money to buy the glasses. We were playing kick ball on the playground. The ball hit my glasses and broke them. I knew that my dad had worked so hard to buy the glasses for me. But a nurse put her arm around me and took me inside. She gave me a certificate from the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation to take to Walmart and get a new pair of glasses. So, because of the Burlsworth Foundation and Walmart, I was ok. The backpacks of food and the glasses helped me to Finish Strong! One day, I want to see Champions for Kids help millions of kids not just succeed, but to do their best to help other kids finish strong. Kids like me care. And we want to help. I'm a student at Central Junior High School in Springdale. On THIS Day, today, I will find a way to help kids Finish Strong. Each of us can do something to help others. I want to be a Champion for Kids. Eddie, 8th Grade
"The Brandon Burlsworth Way" - an essay by Sarah
What can I say about a man like Brandon Burlsworth? He was something special to a lot of people, and he was taken away from this world too soon. The world didn't get the chance to find out what a great person he was until he was already gone. And now, I must write an essay about why I should live my life "The Burlsworth Way." I must admit I am having trouble choosing only three reasons why I admire and respect him.
One reason why I should fashion my life after Brandon's, which struck me when I first started reading this book, is that he is a faithful and loyal Christian. I have always been a Christian, but he was more involved in the church at age 10, than I am today at age 16. That in itself gave me pause, and made me question how good of a Christian I am right now. Brandon never forgot God, just because he was famous. He never took very much credit for his success because he always remembered who gave him those talents in the first place. Brandon was so humble and modest when it came to his success, even when people teased him about how much fame and fortune he was about to receive. Brandon always made time to spend with his family and with God, because that's what mattered the most to him and that's what motivated him to do his best from day to day.
Another reason why I believe I should try to be more like Brandon Burlsworth is the fact that, no matter what, he never gave up. He put everything he had into his football career, even when the outlook wasn't too bright. No matter the odds, no matter who he was up against, no matter who said that he couldn't do it - he always did. When things got rough, Brandon just kicked it up a notch. And Brandon always had a higher goal to reach, a bigger mountain to climb. When he was just a kid, he set his sights on being a Razorback someday, and he was. Once he made the Razorbacks, he wanted to be an All-American, and he accomplished that as well. Once that was over, he was going to be an NFL football player, and that was that, no question about it. Even when he made the draft, before he had even played his first game, he had his eyes on Rookie of the Year. Even though he never got the chance to go for that one, I'm sure he would have conquered that one too. When Brandon wanted to achieve something, he did, no questions asked.
And last, but definitely not least, Brandon always had others on his mind, never just himself. No matter what he did, he never got egotistical about it; he only thought of how it could benefit someone else. Brandon wanted to help children more than anything. He wanted to set up a foundation for kids, to help them get a good education and things to that affect. That was done for him, when he couldn't do it himself. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation helps hundreds of kids every year, including raising scholarship money for them. Helping others and making a difference in their lives was all he ever wanted to do. The only thing he ever thought about buying for himself was an apartment in Indianapolis. He wanted to buy a whole new house for his family. When asked if he was excited to be making so much money, he said, "No, I'm just really ready to go play." The money was never that important to him, unless he got to use it to help someone else. I believe we can all take a lesson from that.
To sum it all up - Brandon Burlsworth was a great guy who got called out of the game before his time. I'm just grateful that I read this book now, when I'm young, and I can still change how my life might turn out, all thanks to Brandon. This book really makes you think about how much time you have to accomplish everything you want in life. It makes you realize that, as Jeff Kinley said, "Not one of us is promised a tomorrow."
"The Brandon Burlsworth Way" - an essay by Bethany
I was sitting in Ms. Hutson's 1st hour class talking to all my friends. The morning announcements were being read. That is when I heard about this amazing opportunity to go to an Arkansas Razorback game. The first thing that ran through my mind was, "Free tickets to a Razorback game? And all I have to do is read a book?" So, selfishly I went to find out what this was all about. They told me that I had to read a book called "Through the Eyes of a Champion: The Brandon Burlsworth Story" and immediately I thought, "Great, another self-centered athlete who thinks he is number one, has wrote a story about his life." Little did I know, Brandon Burlsworth truly was number one.
Brandon Burlsworth was an average kid growing up. He had a mother and father who loved him, and two older brothers to look up to. He was taught a lot of things in his childhood that helped him be the person he became. Brandon was devoted, passionate, humble, caring, loving, respectful, determined, focused, and dedicated to living his life the right way, on and off the field. Not only did Brandon use all of these characters to make himself succeed in football and all sports he played, but he used these characters to succeed in everything he did, from school, to family, to friends, but most importantly to his God.
Brandon touched so many lives while he was alive, but it's through his death that he has touched mine. Reading this story about Brandon has made me realize what life is all about. Life is so much more than to 'succeed' as the world looks at it. I believe that Brandon succeeded more in his 22 years before death, than most do in their many years of life. I wish, hope, and pray that I can make the kind of difference that Brandon Burlsworth did in so many people. That, in itself, would be a great accomplishment.
Brandon is a wonderful role model not only for boys and kids, but for people of all ages. He certainly is one of my role models now. I look up to him because I want to make a difference. Brandon made me realize that not only do I need to put my God first but to put family next, and then friends. My God will guide me through my life and give me strength to do his will, but without the support of family and friends it would be pretty hard.
I was asked to write an essay on why I would model my life after Brandon Burlsworth, but I could go on for hours why I would. To be honest, I can't think of a single reason I wouldn't want to live like Brandon Burlsworth. I got a glimpse of the life "Through the Eyes of a Champion." Brandon was truly a champion and I pray that God allows me to excel the way that he allowed Brandon to, to touch the lives that Brandon touched, and to strive for my goals the way Brandon did. He accomplished so much and impacted so many people in such a short life. This is just a start to why I would want to live my life "The Brandon Burlsworth Way."