JKB — the next generation
For more than two decades, through physical activities, course curriculum and school projects, the JKB Experiential Education Foundation has provided a forum for student-athletes to make positive decisions when faced with adversity.
Its pay-it-forward leadership approach emerged from a grand, courageous plan hatched by founders Colleen Malany and Ken Braid nearly immediately after their son, J. Kyle Braid, took his life while under control of the steroids he hoped would make him a better high school football player.
Having sent well more than 3,000 students through the program — which for 20 years occupied a Colorado ranch and, starting last year, sent incoming juniors to Monmouth College and surrounding areas over four separate weeklong stints in June and July — JKB (jkbfoundation.org) now is seeing its graduates returning to the program as sponsors.
“I felt like it was almost a calling, a duty for me to follow through on that,” said Glenbard North counselor and girls soccer coach Brittany Vesper, a JKB scholar in 2003 as a Buffalo Grove soccer player.
The leadership training stuck with her in high school and down the road. An event planner after college, Vesper turned to education where, she said, “I felt like I was actually making a difference.”
Other young sponsors like Metea Valley’s Dayle Comerford, Naperville North’s Alyssa Girgis, Wheaton North’s Taylor Heatherly and Downers Grove South’s Nicole Sanders can provide firsthand guidance based on their JKB experiences. Just being nominated is special.
“If you’re given an interview to possibly go on this trip, it is a huge honor,” said Dan DeBruycker, athletic director at Metea Valley, which with fellow JKB newcomers Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley gives the DuPage Valley Conference full representation.
DuPage County’s JKB Scholars of 2016 are as follows:
• Downers Grove South: Clayton Linde, Maddie Manganiello, Katie Meyr, Brett Reigler.
• Glenbard North: Alex Bartkowiak, Anna Marinc, Anthony Marre, Greg Newsome.
• Hinsdale Central: Neil Cumberland, Kyle Jones, Kelly Nash, Molly Schwarz.
• Lake Park: Zach Aehlert, Michelle Buttita, Emily Frank, Brianna McAloon, Solomon Sangobowale, Diamante Smith.
• Metea Valley: Prithvi Bandaru, Kailee Bass, Natalia Castillo, Tim Paulson.
• Naperville Central: Charlotte Albright, Danielle Barba, Thomas Dahl, Timothy Folliard, Matthew Keenan, Emily Kinney, Erin McHugh, Alexandra Melby, Joey Murray, Lucas Nervig, Megan Scott, Katie Sledz.
• Naperville North: Jack Barry, Natalie Dunnett, Shannon Jennings, Chris Johnson, Gabe Matar, Vince Romanelli, Caroline Surges, Savannah Swanson.
• Neuqua Valley: Kayla Monis, Danny Sanderson, Jack Wenz, Brynne Winiarski.
• Waubonsie Valley: Kiara Bryant, Julia Burling, Kyle Schroeder, Wes York.
• Wheaton North: Bjorn Bostrom, Megan Giles, Sam Odell, Rose Quinn, Sam Singleton, Matti Zander.
• Wheaton Warrenville South: Hayden Fischer, Sarah Hauenstein, Jake Healy, Jayla Johnson, Carleigh Lewaniak, Parker Robinson.