Growing up in Muncie, Brad Smith remembers riding the school bus with kids who were living at the Delaware County Children’s Home. The stories those kids told often revealed a world of disorder and dysfunction.
“The people who worked at the Children’s Home had hearts of gold,” Brad said. “They just didn’t have the proper means or resources.”
Today, Brad and his wife, Jess, are ardent supporters of the Youth Opportunity Center, which has become a nationally accredited treatment center for children and their families.
“The YOC really is a hidden gem,” Brad said. “It’s more than a rehabilitation center. It’s an education center. It’s a place where people have a heart for the work they do.“
To expose more people to the YOC’s good work, Brad teamed up with friends Ryan McKinley, Jeremy Stow and Ryan Barrett to launch Wifflemania, a wiffle ball tourney that benefits the YOC.
“Wifflemania gives so many people an opportunity to learn about what the YOC does,” Jess said.
“Participants range from retired folks to kids in elementary school. It really reaches a wide range of people.”
The Smiths’ passion for the YOC is rooted in a shared desire to help children. “We have to break this cycle of what’s happening to disadvantaged kids growing up in this city,” Brad said. “A lot of them are in situations where they have no hope. The YOC gives them an opportunity to get an education and counseling in an environment where people really care about them.”
As a young family—they have a 3-year-old son, Kelden—it would be easy for the Smiths to forgo charitable giving in favor of saving for their future. But they view their financial support of the YOC as an investment in their community’s future.
“When we help these kids, we are helping our neighbors and community,” Brad said. “If the kids at the YOC are successful, we are all successful.”