Bear Henley received the Col. Al Bryne Founders Award for the year 2020 because of his unwavering passion and dedication to all the youth of our community. When Bear was invited to join the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Okaloosa County it was immediately evident to everyone he was dedicated to the youth of our community. In less than a year of serving he was offered the Executive Director position. From day one at the club and other organizations he touched, Bear was committed to the very same mission as Al Bryne. Bear believed in the core purpose of the All Sport Association that the founder created. In fact, he wore his first sports uniform playing ball at the Boys and Girls Club of Decatur, AL. Bear tirelessly aimed to provide a safe environment for our youth where they could learn leadership skills, good character development, learn the love of sports, the importance of pursuing their education and above all the importance of team work, fair play, and the meaning of integrity.
Bear is known for leading the Boys of Girls Club of Okaloosa County to become the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast growing to 7 clubs and serving thousands of youth daily. He went beyond the status quo to advance the organization to the next level with his countless additional hours to build a foundation to secure clubs for our youths future. He personally dedicated additional time for mentoring, teaching manhood classes, maintaining ball fields and gyms, advancing sports and educational scholarships, and still had a listening ear for any youth or staff in need in our area for over 25 years. The Denton Boys and Girls Club and Teen Center is named in his honor.
Many witnessed Bear’s true love for our community’s youth and he is known to all of us as a man of inspiration. Bear played sports as a youth through college and was inspired by his own coach, the Legendary, Paul “Bear’ Bryant. Bear promoted Upward Sports program equipment that also serves our school’s volleyball programs and the Special Olympics. He has coached local football and soccer, lead youth programs at First Baptist Church, and recently established a 3-mile Integrity hiking trail on the Spanish Trail Scout Reservation with educational training on the 10 Pillars of Integrity. Bear has a servant’s heart and we all learned with Bear, that Leadership is Stewardship.