4/28/2014 at 8:00 a.m.
LITTLE ROCK — On the 15th anniversary of Brandon Burlsworth’s untimely death, the vision for the foundation created in his honor is crystal clear.
“We’re here to impact people’s lives, just like Brandon did and like he would if he were still with us today,” said his brother Marty, who heads up the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation. “We’re very happy to impact the lives of so many people, whether it is through our Eyes of a Champion program, the Burls Kids, our football camps, the Burlsworth Trophy, the Burlsworth scholarship program; all things that are tributes to the way Brandon lived his life.
“It is certainly gratifying to know that Brandon’s legacy continues to touch so many people’s lives in a positive way.”
As a means of continuing the good work in Brandon’s name, the fifth annual Legends Dinner will honor Randy Veach of Manila, a cotton, soybean and corn farmer who is in his sixth year as president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau.
The Legends Dinner is set for 6 p.m., Aug. 7 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. The dinner serves as one of the primary fundraising events for the Burlsworth Foundation, and organizers hope to attract a crowd of 1,000.
“Randy Veach shares so many of the values and attributes of Brandon built his life upon,” said Marty Burlsworth. “Randy is committed to his faith, family and hard work on his farm and on behalf of the farm families of Arkansas.”
Previous honorees at the Legends Dinner include former U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt, retired University of Arkansas football coach and athletic director Frank Broyles, U.S. Senator John Boozman and Springdale philanthropist Pat Walker.
Veach is a third-generation farmer who, along with his wife Thelma and son Brandon, farms ground cleared by his grandfather and father.
Veach serves as a member of the American Farm Bureau board of directors and is on the board of the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Company, Southern Farm Bureau Life and American Ag Insurance Corp.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Veach to the Fast Access for Students, Teachers and Economic Results (FASTER) board of directors. He also is a board member of Connect Arkansas, as well as the Arkansas World Trade Center board of advisors.
Veach has been involved with agricultural trade missions to Mexico, China, Panama, South Korea and Japan.
“Randy is a humble man, with a humble heart,” said Marty Burlsworth. “He believes in the vision and mission of the Burlsworth Foundation and we are pleased to be able to honor him at our Legends Dinner.”
Brandon Burlsworth famously wore black, horn-rimmed glasses, which became a trademark as he transformed himself from a walk-on at the University of Arkansas to an All-American and third-round draft choice of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. He was killed March 28, 1999 in a car accident – just 11 days after being drafted by the Colts – as he drove from Fayetteville to his hometown of Harrison to go to dinner and church with his mom, bringing a tragic and early end of his life.
The “Burls Kid” is the foundation’s signature program. “That’s a goal Brandon had once he realized the NFL would be in his future,” Marty Burlsworth said. “He wanted to make an impact on the children who grew up with family hardships and to give back to the community.”
Since 2000, the foundation has shared tickets with underprivileged children to each Arkansas Razorback home football game. A similar Burls Kids program is also active in Indianapolis as well. The children are given an official “Burls Kid” shirt and replica glasses similar to what Brandon wore on the field. They are taken on a tour of the athletic facilities and allowed to go on the field and be around the team.
The Eyes of a Champion program impacts as many as 1,000 families each year, providing free vision exams and glasses to low-income, uninsured children. These children would otherwise not receive the eye care and eyewear needed to do their best work in school and at play.
“The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation is the realization of a dream of Brandon himself,” Marty Burlsworth said. “He felt that every child was a gift and that is the focus of our efforts.”
The Christian organization’s mission is to support the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular children who have limited opportunities. The foundation encourages developing positive values, strong faith lives and a life pattern exemplifying “Doing it the Burls’ Way!”
More information about the Burlsworth Foundation, and information about the 2014 Legends Dinner, can be found at www.brandonburlsworth.org
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Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy
organization of more than 190,000 families throughout the state working
to improve farm and rural life.
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