Meet Our Founder
When Lonnie arrived to Bowdoin College in the fall of 2010, he never anticipated embarking on a career in public service. He arrived at Bowdoin with aspirations of breaking football records en route to a career as a practicing physician in the U.S. His dreams had begun to come true in my freshman year of college when he was selected by the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame from a pool of over 400,000 as one of five national scholar athletes, the only Bowdoin student to ever receive the honor. At the time of the award, he never could have imagined life without football; however, this all changed following a summer internship in Zambia.
With support from the Forest Foundation, Lonnie had signed up during my freshman year to spend a summer volunteering abroad with Communities Without Borders, an organization whose mission is to provide educational opportunities to vulnerable children in Zambia. Having never before left North America, he had expected the trip to be very structured; however, he soon learned this would not at all be the case. Instead, three students were given $4,000, contact information for a local school and the parting words from their supervisor, Dr. Richard Bail, of “Go get inspired”.
Lonnie was moved by the level poverty that he would see in the townships of Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka. Everyday, he would watch students return to their homes, where running water, clean sanitation, and access to healthcare was often inaccessible. Over the summer, he witnessed countless children on the street and suffering from easily treatable diseases, many forced to sniff drugs to numb their pain.
The enormity of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the realization that many children in the area lacked critical knowledge on the topic prompted me to switch the focus of my trip and focus my energy on searching for ways to improve children’s knowledge on health. After countless phone calls, he eventually garnered meetings and developed relationships with Zambian governmental officials and non-profit leaders who gave advice and provided contact information for area schools. he spent the remainder of the summer leading HIV/AIDS education courses for students with support from school staff. The work was small in scope, but it set the foundation for the future work of Healthy Kids/Brighter Future.
The chasm between his Northern Maine childhood and the townships Lusaka was unimaginable. The experience in Zambia left Lonnie altered. For the first time in his life he had witnessed true poverty and the pain and suffering that accompanies it. He had traveled to Zambia as a 19-year-old freshman considering a career in medicine and left determined to improve the health of vulnerable populations. Lonnie decided to forgo football to focus all of his energy on improving the health of children in need.
Over the past decade, our goal has been to develop and scale a model capable of delivering medical care and education to marginalized children. What began as the effort of a 20 year old now expanded into so much more. HK/BF has a remarkable team, and they aim to expand our model of school-based healthcare throughout Zambia and other low-income regions of the world. So we welcome you to join us, to help us help the hundreds of thousands of children in need. For we will not stop until every child receives their right to health.