“Strange isn’t it? One man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” Clarence, from It’s a Wonderful Life.
Frank Capra certainly understood the ripple effect of one life touching others. Albert Broadway had that kind of life. In true Capra-esque form, his life left an imprint on so many others. Whether it was the 800 or so people at his funeral who told his family, “He taught me in the fifth grade and he made such an impact on me,” or the one man who said, “He taught me in the fifth grade and he turned my life around when I was a boy.” Or maybe it was the 10 pall bearers who were members of his cross country and track team who called him a father figure.
One person said, “He was there when my mother died, and then 25 years later he was there when my father died. He was always there for me. He encouraged and supported me in everything I did.” It could be the many past and present school teachers and administrators who came to pay their respects, who talked about what a supportive boss he was or how he took a chance on them and gave them their first job. Or even the past superintendents and the present superintendent who said he made their jobs easier by the groundwork he did in building Desoto County Schools. Or even possibly his own grandson who said that it was intimidating thinking about trying to live up to the man he was, but he wanted to try. But of all those touched by Albert Broadway there are many who have been impacted by him and don’t even know it. All of the special needs children served by Through the Roof Pediatric Therapy over the past 4 years are part of his ripple effect.
In 2011, Donna Broadway Sularin, Broadway’s daughter, saw that cuts were continuously made to early intervention services in the state, and she began to dream of providing needed services without parents having to worry about government funding or insurance coverage. It was a big dream, but her father had taught her to dream big and not to be afraid of hard things. So naturally, he supported this dream, not just with encouragement but with his wallet. He paid the hefty sum the IRS requires to submit an application to be considered a 501 (C3) non-profit organization. Once approved, he funded the logo and website design and launch. He paid for letterhead and business cards. He attended every fundraiser: cooking for the Jingle All the Way 5K and Pancake breakfast; attending every Through the Roof Fashion Show/Silent Auction (except for the last two when his health did not allow it); and recruiting golfers, organizing and sponsoring teams and playing for the annual Through the Roof Golf Tournament. Even in the 2017 golf tournament when he was weak and not feeling well, he managed to attend and play 3 holes.
Albert Broadway devoted his entire lift to improving the lives of children and young people, initially through teaching and coaching, then through education administration as superintendent for 16 years. It is only fitting that in his retirement he continued to be involved in helping children and improving their lives through his support of Through the Roof. This organization has served over 200 children with developmental needs in North Mississippi over the past few years, and continues to grow. The seed he helped plant 7 years ago, has grown and is bearing fruit, and hopefully will continue his legacy for years to come.