Sam and Delois Anderson at the Kingsport YMCA. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — Bringing people together to focus on a common goal can produce amazing results.
In talking with people associated with The Spirit Campaign — an initiative to improve recreational and wellness opportunities for thousands of people in the Greater Kingsport community — this probably best describes the work that took place, both publicly and behind the scenes by the hundreds of volunteers involved in the project over the past decade.
The results of the campaign are plainly evident: the Scott Adams Memorial Skate Park, Eastman Park at Horse Creek (a six-field soccer complex), Domtar Park (expanded and renovated) and the final piece of the puzzle, the new Wellmont YMCA facility (co-located with the Kingsport Aquatic Center).
"I think it's beyond belief as far as I'm concerned," said Kingsport businessman Sam Anderson, one of the original advocates and organizers of the campaign. Instrumental and supportive of the overall project, Sam and his wife Delois' names are on the front of the YMCA building.
The origins of The Spirit Campaign date back more than a decade, with the projects themselves being identified during a 1999 economic summit in Kingsport. Two years later, a group of movers and shakers met to see if four separate community projects could come together under one fundraising umbrella.
"There were all these projects getting ready to go out in the community and raise money," said Charlie Glass, executive director of the YMCA. "Sam and the Kingsport Regional Interactive Design Studio was working on a project to renovate Glen Bruce Park, we were getting ready to raise money, and at the same time K-Play was getting ready to raise money to build soccer and baseball fields.
"Sam said we needed to bring these together and have one campaign."
While the community was used to smaller fundraising drives, such as the annual ones by the United Way and other nonprofit organizations, a campaign of this magnitude had never been attempted in Kingsport before. In short, committee members were nervous about the success of such a large fundraising drive.
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