Re­mem­ber­ing Larry

Widow of fi­ancé starts a non­profit

The Covington News - - Front page - AM­BER PITTMAN apittman@cov­news.com

It’s been nearly two years since 38-year-old Larry Dwayne Bradley died. And while she has mourned, the fi­ancée he left be­hind has also worked to­wards cre­at­ing some­thing that will honor the mem­ory of her lost love.

Bradley, who lived in Ox­ford, had taken a pro­mo­tion as a plant op­er­a­tor in At­lanta sev­eral months be­fore his death. He had been tak­ing wa­ter sam­ples on a Fri­day when he ap­par­ently fell into an aer­a­tion basin at the R.M. Clay­ton Wa­ter Treat­ment Plant. His body was found Satur­day

af­ter­noon fol­low­ing an overnight search.

Bradley’s death shook his fi­ancée and their com­bined fam­ily to its very core.

Christy Whit­ley and Larry Bradley were to­gether for seven years. They met at work and be­gan dat­ing, pur­chased a home to­gether and lived as a fam­ily with their chil­dren for five years, joined with their first grand­daugh­ter just months be­fore his death.

Eight months af­ter he died, Whit­ley de­cided she needed to do some­thing. She was still mourn­ing, still strug­gling to cope with the loss of the man whom she loved, but she wanted to honor him in a way that would be last­ing.

“Ini­tially, I just wanted to plant a tree. Peo­ple won­der how I came up with this idea, but the truth is, I didn’t. Any­one who has suf­fered a great loss such as this un­der­stands; I was dis­traught; I was in­ca­pable of con­tem­plat­ing an en­deavor as large as es­tab­lish­ing a non­profit foun­da­tion; I could barely carry out my daily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. God alone pre­sented me with this idea; I re­ceived it, and I am thank­ful for what it is giv­ing to all of us in­volved in this ven­ture. It has given me pur­pose and it is a source of pride for Larry’s son — that is very im­por­tant to me,” Whit­ley said.

The non­profit is “Food for Thought.” Though not your typ­i­cal sort of foun­da­tion, it pro­vides sup­port to some­thing that was very dear to Bradley’s heart — ed­u­ca­tion.

“All as­pects of this foun­da­tion are di­rectly linked to Larry; he once men­tioned the dif­fi­cul­ties he en­dured as a stu­dent en­rolled at the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia, and hunger was a griev­ous is­sue. Af­ter some re­search, I quickly re­al­ized there were no other pro­grams that pro­vided meals or proper nour­ish­ment to col­lege students in need. As a col­lege stu­dent my­self, I knew that fi­nan­cial aid is in­suf­fi­cient to cover tu­ition, books and re­lated fees, much less the thou­sands of dol­lars it costs to pur­chase a meal plan for the year (the cost for an an­nual full meal plan at UGA is now $3,882). I was sur­prised to dis­cover that de­spite the na­tional school lunch pro­gram that pro­vides free or re­duced meals to students through high school, these same students face hunger should they de­cide to pur­sue their ed­u­ca­tional goals. The tu­tor­ing as­pect was also de­rived from Larry, who tu­tored mid­dle and high school students, as well as fel­low class­mates from Troy Univer­sity, from our home while he fin­ished his bach­e­lor’s de­gree. He be­lieved any­thing worth hav­ing was in­com­plete un­less it was shared.”

The foun­da­tion pur­chases meal plans for col­lege students ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dire fi­nan­cial straits and who lack the sup­port of a fam­ily. This could be due to their sta­tus as a fos­ter stu­dent, health is­sues or un­em­ploy­ment. In ex­change for the meal plan, the students agree to tu­tor younger pub­lic school students.

“Our ob­jec­tive is to en­cour­age students to per­se­vere through dif­fi­cul­ties in or­der to achieve their ed­u­ca­tional goals,” said Whit­ley. “Our pro­gram ben­e­fits not only the meal plan re­cip­i­ents and the chil­dren they tu­tor, but also their fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and even­tu­ally our work­force. Our motto: ‘Fed by the Spirit: Nour­ish­ing & Per­pet­u­at­ing Knowl­edge.’”

“Food for Thought” has al­ready put their words into ac­tion by sup­ply­ing two New­ton High School students (Bradley’s high school alma mater) with the funds for a meal plan. One is at­tend­ing Gor­don Col­lege, the other the Univer­sity of West Ge­or­gia.

The foun­da­tion is a 501 c-3 non­profit and ac­cepts tax-de­ductible do­na­tions. There is a Paypal link on the foun­da­tion’s web­site at lar­ry­bradley­foun­da­tion. org, or checks and money or­ders can be sent to 135 Moss Road, Cov­ing­ton 30016. They also of­fer an “Adopt a Stu­dent” pro­gram that will pro­vide col­lege students with care pack­ages pre­pared for them es­pe­cially by donors who of­fer ad­di­tional nu­tri­tion, toi­letries and en­cour­age­ment to students in need, in ad­di­tion to their meal plan. Whit­ley said they al­ready have students on a wait­ing list from col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties throughout the state. To learn more, visit the web­site or find them on Face­book at face­book.com/#!/ pages/Food-for-ThoughtLarry-D-Bradley-Foun­da­tion/255380364486176.

“We were a team,” said Whit­ley of her­self and Bradley. “Reg­u­larly, our chil­dren, and oc­ca­sion­ally even my par­ents, joined us to do yard work and clean of­fice build­ings for ex­tra in­come. Larry was the head of our house­hold and pro­vided an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of the im­por­tance of work­ing to­gether for a com­mon goal; he al­ways made work­ing a plea­sure. He was and still is our role model.”

Sub­mit­ted photo

Christy Whit­ley and her late fi­ance Larry Bradley.

Larry Bradley at his grad­u­a­tion.

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