The founder of Brightway Center, Coach Kara “Cobby” Bright, was born in Brilliant, Ohio and was a 1945 graduate of old Smithfield High. He attended The Ohio State University as an undergraduate and received his Bachelor’s degree at Milligan College. After serving 17 months in the Korean War, he went on to earn his Master’s degree in Education at the University of Mississippi.
His first taste of teaching and coaching came in Roanoke, Virginia where he coached basketball and baseball at Floyd High School for two years. He moved on for a five-year stay at Surry Central High School in North Carolina where he served as the school's head coach in football, basketball and track. Coach Bright's return to the Ohio Valley in 1962 marked the start of an era for the small community of Smithfield. As the school's head coach in basketball, he produced many outstanding teams during the 60s and 70s. With the formation of the Buckeye Local School System, Kara was the administration's first choice to serve as the new school's head basketball coach. He declined and took a position at Buckeye Central Junior High in Dillonvale. While at Central, he coached the Charger football team until his retirement in 1987.
In addition to being a coach and an educator, Kara dedicated forty years of his life to organizing retreats for youth. He began his work through the formation of the Ohio Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and ultimately developed new and exciting programs through his vision of Brightway Center. Unfortunately, the Lord called Kara home in 2005 before that dream could be realized. Before he passed away he exacted a solemn promise from four friends, Daryle Griffin, George Spack, Jon Swires and Clifton Spinner that they would turn his dream into reality. Kara bequeathed 177 acres in Rayland, OH and set up an endowment to ensure Brightway’s future. As Christians devoted to Kara's friendship and convinced of the importance of his dream, they forged ahead with faith and determination.