“I started working with Mr. B when I was in 5th grade, but didn’t get my first speaking line until I was in 10th grade and didn’t sing a solo on stage until I was in 11th. He recognized that everyone had their own journey and was there to support you no matter how you decided to travel it,” said Kimee Balmilero.
With Mr. B’s guidance, her journey eventually led her to the U.S touring cast of “Miss Saigon” and a role in the original Broadway production of “Mamma Mia.”
Mr. Ronald E. Bright, or “Mr. B” as students called him, had a way of inspiring all those around him. Teaching theater and directing shows on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu for over 50 years, Mr. B demonstrated a passion for the performing arts that not only made him beloved by his students, but also made him a Hawaiian theater icon. The recent passing of Ronald Bright, however, has left a large community in search of the best way to honor the man that changed their lives.
A long time colleague and friend of Mr. Bright, Allan Lau, took the initiative to launch the #I’mABrightKid campaign, utilizing the hashtag created by Kimee, the former Bright student turned Broadway actor. Drawn to the website through a previous purchase, Allan knew that t-shirts and a Teespring campaign were exactly what he was looking for. “We thought it would be a great way to both honor Mr. Bright and fund the scholarship that was started several years ago in his name,” Allan said. And with almost $2500 raised in the first week after launch, Allan — and others whom Mr. B affected — are successfully doing both.
Finding passionate support for the #I’mABrightKid campaign has not been difficult. “With such an expansive career, [Mr. B] definitely touched hundreds and hundreds of lives as participants in his shows, in addition to the countless thousands that were simply part of the audience,” said Allan. By simply sharing his campaign across social media channels, Allan has received support from far beyond Hawaii. Word of the campaign has spread from the windward side of O’ahu all the way to the theaters of midtown Manhattan, as the entire Bright Kid community has united to celebrate their colleague, teacher, and friend.
Considering the strength of the community that Ronald E. Bright built, of students, parents and theater goers — Allan Lau is hopeful of the impact to be made in Mr. Bright’s name. With the funds from his Teespring campaign going to a scholarship for students pursuing careers in education, the ultimate goal is to both honor Mr. Bright’s contributions to the teaching field and to “inspire students to make a difference in peopleʻs lives as Mr. B has done.”
“All #I’mABrightKid kids carry on [Mr. B’s] legacy through what they do now, whether it’s performing, teaching, parenting,” Kimee Balmilero says. And through Allan Lau’s efforts, #I’mABrightKid has not only turned into a celebration of the life of Ronald Bright, but also has extended Mr. B’s legacy far into the future. With a hashtag, a t-shirt, and the support of a community, Allan and the Bright Kids are making sure that Ronald E. Bright will continue to inspire students in O’ahu with the hope that they too will share his gift of inspiration and education with the world around them.