The Livin’ the Dream Foundation was established in memory of Mark Guensch, and others like him, who struggle to stay strong in a culture where poor decisions, limited options and peer pressure are the norm.
For Mark, that struggle ended when he was just 19 years old. A Freshman at Liberty University, he had returned home to support his brother in a district basketball playoff game. But after the game, his decision to head to a friend’s home where he spent time partying and drinking with his old high school friends became the first of two decisions that would forever change the lives of his friends and family.
His second decision—a decision that far too many young people make after a high school party—is the decision that ended his life. Unable to think clearly due to the alcohol in his system, Mark attempted to drive home and ended up in a car accident that claimed his life.
A life cut short is a tragedy that has lasting effects. His friends, his family and those who knew him describe Mark as a likable young man who left a positive impression on those he met. His gentle and encouraging spirit was one that drew people to him and the smile that never seemed to leave his face was one that people couldn’t help noticing. One friend remarked that the only time she had ever seen Mark mad was when she wouldn’t share her gummy bears with him.
Mark was also one who looked beyond himself and had a curiosity and healthy interest in the world around him. His desire to help others whenever he saw a need meant that his reach went far beyond his close circle of friends and fellow team members.
He was a basketball co-captain and point guard, a Kansas Jayhawks fan and a competitive video game player. He was a natural leader whose leadership qualities led many to believe that he would achieve whatever he wanted in life. Mark was always looking forward and often expressed his hopes and dreams for the future.
A future that he would never get to experience.
Sadly, Mark’s story is one of many across the Lehigh Valley. In today’s high school culture, where the search for acceptance trumps wisdom and good decisions, far too many youth are faced with situations and environments that can change or tragically end their lives.
We believe that we owe it to our young people to provide better options. The formative years of high school are critical to the young adults our children grow up to become. It is during these years that we need to focus on developing good decision making skills and the ability to understand the consequences of those choices.
This is why we want to create an environment for our young people that surrounds them with people who care, peers who support their hopes and dreams and mentors willing to invest in helping those dreams become a reality as they grow and discover their unique God-given gifts.
This is the purpose of Livin’ the Dream.
Our “After Dark” program is a place where high school students can gather every Friday and Saturday night free of charge. Whether they play pick up games on the field or spend time in The Corner playing ping pong, table games or just hanging out, they are surrounded by friends who came to enjoy good, clean fun.
It is because of community members like you who care about the youth of the Lehigh Valley that kids can escape the negative influences found in party culture and experience real relationships. It is exciting to see friendships develop and grow between teens from rival schools all across the Valley. And it is rewarding to provide an option that helps our young people make better decisions.
We desire to extend the “After Dark” program and provide more space and more times for high school kids to come together and develop those relationships. We desire to expand our reach and hopefully change the course of many lives here in the Lehigh Valley.
That’s why we need your help!
Our vision is to own our own facility where we can offer the same free of charge activities to more students and at more times throughout the week. Through After Dark, we have met hundreds of young people searching for a way to escape the constant negative influences.
Young people, like Mark, who have the potential for an amazing future.
Help us reach them. Your donation will help us provide better options, exciting activities and a place where we can help more young people mature into full adulthood.
“We desire to create a Christian community center that will be an athletic and social safe haven for kids and adults alike. By encouraging the value of people and teaching Biblical truths, we desire to edify and motivate each other through simple acts of kindness and compassion.”