The bright side

St. Hubert and Little Flower join together to raise awareness for a Northeast resident in need.

A team effort: The St. Hubert and Little Flower volleyball teams recently played in honor of Kevin Brighter, who is seeking a kidney donor. The game also raised money for Gift of Life, a nonprofit that distributes organs and tissues for patients in need. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

For most people, the St. Hubert’s game looked like just another volleyball match. But for others, it could make a life-changing difference.

The walls of the gymnasium in St. Hubert’s Catholic School were decorated with posters displaying positive messages like ‘Block out cancer’ and ‘SHVB digs for a Brighter future’ during its volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 28. Players wore bright pink T-shirts and socks to reflect the cause.

The team had joined together with its opponent, Little Flower Catholic High School, to raise funds and awareness for organ donations.

The event was hosted in honor of 20-year-old Kevin Brighter, who, as the Northeast Times reported in May, is seeking a kidney donor.

The game also raised money for Gift of Life, a nonprofit organization that recovers and distributes organs and tissues for patients in need in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Altogether, the teams raised $1,570 for the nonprofit.

The event was started because the players of the volleyball team and their coaches, Christina Schneider, Cait Loftus and Bill Schneider, wanted to raise awareness for Kevin. Kevin’s sister Gracie is a senior at the school and on the volleyball team. They ran the idea by the Brighter family and Little Flower, all of whom eagerly agreed to the idea.

“It feels like family,” said Maura Brighter, Kevin’s mother. “It feels very nice to have a family here.”

Kevin Sr., Kevin’s father, said he was surprised by the outpouring the family has seen from the school and community.

“I didn’t expect it to be this big. Gracie had a lot of support from her classmates,” he said.

Through his struggle, Kevin has remained strong. He recently started his junior year at La Salle University, where he studies Integrated Science Business and Technology with a concentration in biotechnology.

An update in his dialysis treatment allows him to remain on campus at night and receive the treatment while he sleeps. Last semester, Kevin had to frequently leave campus for treatment, which he said impacted his social and academic life. He serves as vice president of Delta Sigma Phi, where he oversees all operations of the 30-member fraternity.

“I’m able to be on campus more and be a lot more involved,” he said.

Kevin was touched by the community’s efforts to help him at the volleyball game.

“It means a lot to have the support of the community behind me,” he said. “It’s something you don’t hear about too often. It’s just overwhelming.”

Kevin was born with a kidney disease after a pregnancy where his parents were told he would not lead a normal life. Kevin Sr. donated his kidney, and so far Kevin has grown up happily and normally. He was promised up to 20 years with his father’s kidney.

A great cause: St. Hubert High School bested Little Flower in three games on Sept. 28, by scores of 25–13, 25–10 and 25–15. The event was organized to raise awareness for 20-year-old Kevin Brighter. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS

So far, the Brighter family has not found its luck since Kevin’s kidney started failing him last December. Maura described the process like finding a needle in a haystack, as finding a potential donor whose blood is compatible with Kevin’s could take months.

The family has not had the easiest year so far, but will stop at nothing until Kevin’s operation is complete.

“There are a lot of people who have been tested. We’re hopeful. We’re still looking for a donor and exploring other options, too,” Maura said. “We just keep moving forward. That’s all you can do.”

Tables featuring snacks, desserts and bracelets were set up at the entrance to the gymnasium, and gift baskets were raffled off. All proceeds went toward Gift of Life. Little Flower donated a basket to raffle off, in addition to donating funds.

Gift of Life was founded in 1974 and partners with 130 acute care hospitals to offer families the option of donation.

“Support from a network of professionals at area tissue and eye banks, tissue and blood typing labs, courier services, air charter firms, among others provide services that ensure the success of donation and transplantation,” the group’s website reads.

According to the website, there are more than 116,000 people in the United States and more than 5,400 people in the tristate area alone who are waiting on life-saving transplants.

When a potential organ donor passes away, a Gift of Life transplant coordinator travels to the hospital and works with the donor’s family to make transplants happen. The coordinator will also discern the recipient based on a few factors, including location and length of time they’ve been waiting.

A portion of the proceeds will be used in the Gift of Life Family House, which provides temporary lodging to families and transplant patients who had to travel to receive care.

In addition to the great cause they were supporting, the Bambies were able to protect the dome. The junior varsity team claimed victory by scores of 25–13 and 25–10. The varsity team snagged the win in three games, by scores of 25–13, 25–10 and 25–15.

The game was another step forward for the Brighters in what is a long, but inspiring, journey. ••

To learn more about Kevin’s journey, visit the A Kidney for Kevin for a Brighter Future Facebook page. To learn more about Gift of Life, visit donors1.org.