Kevin Bryan took time thanking family, friends and co-workers in his acceptance speech during the Pirate Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He credited others for helping through a difficult journey.
At first, Bryan didn’t mention specifics on stage at the Wilson Center for Performing Arts, but eventually, he opened up about the challenges he’s faced the past 2½ years in a battle with Stage 4 colon cancer.
Bryan, 62, has faced surgeries, chemotherapy and endless doctor appointments. He used his time in a ceremony that also honored Platte County graduates Paul Whitters and Jane Wittmeyer to talk about the lessons he’s learned through the struggle.
“Adversity is gonna come your way. It’s how you handle adversity that makes you the person you become,” said Bryan, Class of 1975. “I choose to fight every day of my life, and I want to live life the way I want to. And I will continue to fight. So remember, even when that day seems the darkest, get up and meet your challenge head on.”
The ceremony took place immediately after a signing ceremony for three Platte County seniors.
Whitters (Class of 1946) was the first honoree. He was a multi-sport athlete at Platte County and went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps, but he also has been a long-time supporter of the school district and a former member of the Platte County Board of Education.
Taking the microphone, Whitters first addressed the seniors signing to play sports in college.
“I ask them to please take a look at what they’re going to see on stage the next few minutes because if they work hard they’ll grow up and go through life and ended up looking like a kind-of-overweight, broke-down individual,” he joked.
“If any of my teachers were still around, I think they’d be totally in shock at this honor,” he continued before adding the pride he felt to have been a part of the Platte City community during all of its changes in recent decades.
Wittmeyer (Class of 1973) was a successful track and field athlete at Platte County. She went on to be a two-time national champion and two-time All-American at Kansas State competing in the 3,600- and 3,200 meter relay in 1976 and 1977.
Reminiscing, Wittmeyer told of how her love for running started on the streets of Platte City where strangers would stop to offer her a ride. She would always refuse and get back to her workouts. Those humble beginnings helped spawn her successful collegiate career, and she reminded those in attendance that anyone from Platte County had the ability to do great things.
“If any of the students here think they don’t have what it takes, you do,” Wittmeyer said.
Bryan’s family has a long history at Platte City and then Platte County High School. He graduated in 1975 as a multi-sport athlete and later raised his children in the school district, even spending a stint on the Platte County Board of Education.
Professionally, Bryan has been a successful teacher and coach. He’s served as head football coach at DeKalb, West Platte and East Buchanan in a decorated career. He most recently finished his 12th season leading East Buchanan. The Bulldogs advanced to the Class 1 state semifinals in 2012 and 2017 under Bryan’s direction.
Bryan credited Platte County coaches Tom Morgan, Bob Maxwell and Glen McDonald with helping him to develop both as a person and as a coach. Being included in the Pirate Hall of Fame alongside Morgan, Maxwell and many others was a special moment for Bryan.
“I feel very honored and very blessed to be able to stand in front of you as one of those members,” Bryan said.