Western Carolina University running back Corey Holloway says his body is stronger, he runs faster and his football team has a confidence it never had before. WCU volleyball player Aleah Keaton appreciates the tangible support for student-athletes, the clean environment and the fact that her teammates can all work out together. And they both love the new sound system.

Who knew an upgraded weight room with a new “cool factor” could be such a game-changer for a group of college athletes? David Brinkley ’76 and Marie Brinkley ’77 did, and that’s why they donated more than $400,000 to make WCU’s weight room in the Jordan-Phillips Fieldhouse a custom-built, state-of-the-art facility.

“What we’re doing is improving an avenue for [young people] who are blessed by God, who have athletic ability, who can run and jump and throw and hit better than the average person,” said David Brinkley, a former Catamount football player. “All we’re doing is helping them dream, helping them enhance their position. Hopefully, they’ll get a college education, and when they get a chance to be a David and Marie Brinkley, they’ll bless others,” he said.

The Brinkleys, who live in Kings Mountain but met as teenagers growing up in Valdese, have been blessing WCU a lot lately. In the past 24 months, they’ve given more than $600,000 – including the weight room donation – to improve the athletic training facilities at WCU, which are used by all Catamount athletes, and to provide athletic scholarships. The weight room was renamed the David and Marie Brinkley Athletic Weightlifting Facility.

“From a coach’s perspective, it fires me up to know that someone in the community notices what we have going on here,” said Evan Barr, WCU director of athletic performance. “Having this new room to come into every day shows these athletes this community is pouring back into them, so they come in with a renewed drive because of families like the Brinkley family.”

The Brinkleys’ gift for the upgrade of Catamount Athletics’ weight room is part of Western Carolina University’s “Lead the Way: A Campaign Inspired by The Belcher Years.” The historic philanthropic campaign will conclude spring 2019. For more information or to make a gift to WCU, visit the website LeadTheWay.wcu.edu.