2016 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

David J. Berry

David J. BerrySumner High School, 1968

Other Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools Attended: Grant Elementary and Northeast Junior High

Growing up in a strong, close-knit community in Kansas City, Kansas, David Berry found himself drawn to sports. This passion led him to opportunities to play basketball on college and semi-pro teams, and to more than 30 years of coaching and mentoring young people in Kansas City, Kansas.

Berry’s basketball team was quite successful during his time at Sumner High School, going 22-1 his senior year. Recently, he was inducted into the Sumner High School Athletic Hall of Fame. After injuries cut his own career short, he dedicated himself to providing opportunities for other young people. He has had up to 85 kids participating in his athletic program, and he takes great pride in seeing their accomplishments.

“I love the fact that students are achieving, and doing better than what I did,” he says. “I like the feeling that I gave to them to achieve and do better. Many of them didn’t have fathers in the home, and I became like a grandfather to them. So proud to see them achieve, and go on to college.”

After his own father passed away, Berry left school to go work for the railroad. He took an apprenticeship as a machinist, and the railroad paid for him to get his degree. He spent 32 years working for the railroad. He remembers that, when he started, there were a lot of older guys there who never had the chance to go to school. He feels proud that he was able to take advantage of the opportunities he was given.

Recently, through his sister, he became involved in the Foster Grandparent program at Washington High School. While he initially expected to be connected to the athletic department, he got assigned to special education students. Once he stepped through the door, and saw the needs of the students, he realized that was where he was supposed to be. He works five days a week/six hours a day, helping to teach students life skills, so when they graduate they can get a job and be productive. “The more you see them learn and achieve,” he says, “the more you enjoy what you are doing.”

His advice for today’s students: “Never say you can’t, always set your goals high, and always think positive. As long as you think positive, you will achieve.”