A tree just north of Hulitt Hall is dedicated to the memory of Brian Lemons. It's a tree that YC students and employees have walked by hundreds of times. The plaque reads “In loving memory of Brian A Lemons, Jan 3, 1978 - Feb 23, 1997, The Power of One, From all those whose lives you touched.” The tree stands in remembrance but also to share the story with future generations. Brian’s life was cut short by a tragic car accident during his freshman year at York College.
A second-generation Yorkie, Brian Lemons was following the same path as his dad, Steve (’74). Brian was an inspirational student. The starting goalie on the men’s soccer team, he was a student leader who touched the lives of many in his day. His legacy continues to touch many who are still at York today. Current education department professor Sarah Van Gomple and head softball coach Roni Miller were among his contemporaries.
His youth minister in Wichita and current YC business professor, Tim Lewis remembers Brian, “In your lifetime you may be fortunate enough to encounter a person, no matter how briefly, who makes everyone and everything around them brighter and more hopeful. Have you ever seen a photograph of a lightning bolt that hits the earth on a cloudy, dark night? As it strikes, it brings an indescribable brilliance, beauty and strength. Then it’s gone. For me, and many others, Brian Lemons was that bolt of lightning. He filled our lives with hope and the joy of life. Almost daily, when I walk by his campus tree or glance at the photo of him in my office, two things about Brian come to my mind. First, how deeply those that loved him, miss him. And, how much influence he still has in our lives. In his memory and in his honor, people are being healed, fed, educated, loved and taught the Word of Life. His family and extended church family have worked tirelessly to take up the work that Brian was unable to complete himself. He was and always will be to all of us...the Power of One."
Brian’s influence was keenly felt by his peers and friends but his legacy extends far beyond York and his hometown of Wichita.
Nhowe Mission, an outreach of Churches of Christ in Zimbabwe, is home to a hospital named in Brian’s memory. It is part of a complex that includes an orphanage, school and more. It is a place that gives hope to those who have none - especially for children who need refuge in the orphanage and attend the school. Archford Manduvi was one of those children who found hope and a home in this place where Brian’s memory is felt everywhere.
Archford Manduvi scores a goal against Ottawa.
A beneficiary of Brian Lemon’s legacy, Archford graduated from the school at Nhowe, made his way from Zimbabwe to York and began his studies in Bible at York College during the fall 2021 semester. Manduvi is also a part of the soccer program. Before the season was over, he had proven to be a great player, starting seven games and emerging as a leading scorer for the team.
In a new effort to remember Brian Lemons, his influence, and the impact of his family over the course of more than twenty years, Richard and Rachel James have stepped forward with a $200,000 challenge gift designated to fully renovate the athletic training room. Due to a growing number of student-athletes it is a much needed project. When the overhaul is complete the fully renewed space will be named the Brian Lemons Athletic Training Center. One more honor in memory of a young man whose life touched and changed so many others.
Commenting about the challenge, Richard James said, “After we moved to Wichita in 2000 we got to know the Lemons family and saw the tremendous influence Brian had during his short life. We think the training room is the perfect way to ensure that his memory is not forgotten at York College. Brian loved playing soccer and was planning on being a medical doctor and doing mission work in Africa. He was characterized by caring for others - what better place for him to be remembered than one focused on the needs of others?”
Richard continued, “I want to appeal to every former athlete to consider honoring a fellow Panther with your own support for this project. Especially for those who knew and loved Brian, I hope you will give generously. The Brian Lemons Athletic Training Center will help kids today and in the future while it honors the high calling of service to others exemplified by Brian.”
The Lemons family was moved by the efforts to remember Brian and the naming tribute. "Our family is deeply encouraged and honored that you all have chosen to have the new athletic training center named after our Brian. York College has a special place in our hearts for so many reasons and to have a facility carry his name means a great deal. Brian's legacy goes far beyond soccer and truly revolves around his love for Christ and the unity found through His sacrifice. York played an edifying role in Brian's spiritual development and also provided countless opportunities to evangelize and grow in relationship with believers and nonbelievers alike. He absolutely loved getting to play collegiate soccer at York but his greatest desire was to continue growing in his walk with Christ and unifying the Body. Although his life was tragically cut short, his desire to see others come to Christ lives on into eternity."
York College's certified athletic trainer Chad Karcher has seen YC athletics grow from around 150 student-athletes in 1999 to more than 350 in 2021.
Located on the south end of the Freeman Center, the renovation will triple the capacity of the athletic training room and add several desperately needed features. The change will mean relocating the men’s basketball locker room to the north end of the facility creating a new second floor where the stage has been located. This new space will provide capacity for additional offices, a conference room and a VIP box. Total renovations will cost $450,000. If you would like to honor Brian and donate to the project, please click here.
Will you help us....?
Fill a Water Cooler - $50
Tape an Ankle - $100
Ice a Knee - $250
Sponsor a Treatment Table - $500
Build a Locker - $1,000
*When the training room is renovated it will displace the current men's basketball locker room. Cost estimates include rebuilding the men's basketball locker room on the north end of Freeman Center.
Naming opportunities for spaces are available. Contact Jared Stark for further details firstname.lastname@example.org.