You've got to believe.
Patrick Klein does. So do Chris Dutton and Katie Smith.
The three were in St. Clairsville last week to promote the iBELIEVE Foundation which specializes in providing leadership, communication and problem-solving skills to Appalachia youth and young adults, along with other in-need individuals so that they can become successful future leaders in their schools and, most importantly, their communities.
"We grew up in the region," said Klein, a Belpre native and assistant women's basketball coach at The Ohio State University. "We realized there was definitely a need to provide opportunities for the top students and that's exactly what we are doing.
"Just providing a simple opportunity that goes a long way in our hopes to tackle college acceptance, participation and attendance. That's what we want to do," he added.
"I graduated from Union Local and grew up in Flushing," he offered. "I saw too many kids grew up here with nowhere to go. Now, they can use someone like us to come in and provide them with the necessary skills to get them better prepared for college."
iBELIEVE is based in Columbus, but according to Klein, "It is growing into all 32 counties in Ohio and some in West Virginia."
The foundation's goal is to provide scholarships to high school and middle school Appalachian students. Student leaders will attend a 5-day, 4-night summer leadership camp run by the Ohio Association of Student Councils, a proven successful program for all student leaders across the Buckeye State.
Thursday night's kickoff dinner included exciting auction items - a Hocking Hills retreat, a night in the Amish Country Cottage Inn, an OSU Fan Experience and autographed memorabilia.
"This is big for our first event," noted Dutton. "The country club is a nice setting. We just want to try and get our message out. We wanted to get as many business leaders and schools here tonight. We also wanted to get some students here. Let them see first-hand what we are about."
Klein explained that all donations are tax-exempt.
"We are a registered 501(3)c fund under the Foundation for Appalachia. Everything goes back to the community. We have hardly any operating funds."
Smith, a former women's basketball standout at The Ohio State University and current WNBA All-Star, had nothing but praise for the foundation.
"Patrick is one of my good friends. We both grew up in Appalachia. I grew up in Hocking County and he grew up in Belpre, so we both have an interest in this.
"Once he got this off the ground he told me he wanted me to be a part of it," she continued. "It's near and dear to my heart. It's where I grew up. It's definitely something that I believe in.
"Patrick can make you believe in a lot of things, but his hard work and passion for this is contagious."
For additional information, call iBELIEVE at (740) 753-1111 or visit www.appalachianohio.org
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org