For those in attendance of ACU’s 2022 Alumni Day Luncheon, one fact was very clear: Thousands of lives have been changed thanks to the work of the two guests of honor.
Family, friends, coworkers and hundreds of others gathered Feb. 19, 2022, at the Hunter Welcome Center to celebrate Kathy (Gay ’78) Halbert and Brandon Osborne (’05), ACU’s Outstanding Alumna of the Year and Young Alumnus of the Year, respectively, for their exceptional careers and servant leadership. Halbert is president and cofounder of the charitable Caris Foundation, and Osborne is executive director of the Abilene Youth Sports Authority.
In 2002, Halbert and her husband, David (’78), cofounded the Caris Foundation, which derives its name from the Greek word for grace, with the purpose of alleviating as much human suffering as possible. The foundation provides medical care, support for hospitals, disaster relief, mentorship and education programs, and more to hundreds of thousands of people in need. Under Halbert’s leadership, the foundation has established projects in Haiti and Kenya and operations around the world.
“The Caris Foundation and Kathy and David’s generosity allow us to bring the Kingdom of God in very real ways to so many people,” said Jim Reppart (’76), Kenya director at the Caris Foundation, in his tribute to Halbert at the event. “The beauty of Kathy Halbert is not something she buys in a store. Her beauty is what she has stored in her heart. And she stores in her heart grace, joy and love.”
ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) said Halbert is a shining example of the university’s mission.
“We want to inspire and motivate more students to do exactly what Kathy has done – to find their God-given calling,” he said. “And with boldness and tenacity go out into the world and help others.”
Halbert also said she felt blessed by her time at ACU.
“So many of the blessings in my life come from ACU,” Halbert said, specifically mentioning her husband, whom she met on campus, and their three children.
Likewise, Osborne, who grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, also said he was grateful for his time on the Hill.
“My journey to get here is probably very different from most people. I came to Abilene sight unseen,” he said of his decision to attend ACU. “Abilene changed my life.”
And he stayed in Abilene to change the lives of others. Osborne has worked as a teacher and physical education specialist at several local schools and as an assistant basketball coach at Hardin-Simmons University. He has operated a basketball and player development business. And since 2018, he’s led the Abilene Youth Sports Authority in its mission to empower coaches, parents and young athletes to change the world through sports and Christian principles.
In a video tribute, Abilene Youth Sports Authority board chair Kris Seale recalled Osborne’s reply to a job interview question about what he wanted to accomplish in life: to win a million people to Christ.
He might be well on his way. Andy Blessing (’78 M.Ed.), a long-time administrator within Abilene Independent School District and principal at the first elementary school at which Osborne taught, spoke of Osborne’s ability to connect with and inspire children, many of whom came from tough situations at home.
“He changed the mindset of thousands of people,” Blessing said of Osborne. “He spoke to kids not as who they were but as who they could be and what we expected them to be, and they loved that and took it to heart.”
And on a day focused on them, it did not go unnoticed that Halbert and Osborne both spent their time heaping praise and thanks on others.
“Both of you don’t want today to be just about you,” said Craig Fisher (’92), associate vice president of advancement and alumni. “So, it’s about God’s Kingdom – and it’s about changing people’s lives. We thank you for living out your callings and being obedient to what God has called you to do.”
Click here to learn more about Halbert and Osborne.
– Robin Saylor
Mar. 2, 2022