The Lee’s Summit based non-profit organization Suburban Balance’s Lift Him Up men’s conference drew over 100 men, including Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird.

Men came together under one roof to support and LIFT one another up…Literally.

Everyone has a story, everyone has been through something, adversity can hit at any time. The men of Lift Him Up want young men and men to know they don’t have to face it alone. These experiences and stories of trials to triumph should be used to help their fellow brothers.

Speakers and panelists included the superintendent of Lawrence Public Schools Dr. Anthony Lewis, former Superintendent Dr. Dennis Carpenter, KC Star Editorial Board member Toriano Porter, real estate entrepreneur Christian Roustic, and keynote speaker William Lang of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The atmosphere inside the banquet hall at Adams Pointe Conference Center in Blue Springs was filled with moments of truthfulness and transparency.

Men and young men from all walks of life including pastors, college students, professors, entrepreneurs, small business owners, journalist, news anchors, coaches and more listened to their fellow brother and shared stories of trials to triumph…they discussed not being the victim but the victors.

Roustic said “It’s about reaching back to pull the next brother along. Being a true brother is being another hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, a help to build and break bridges, celebrate one another’s victories, and mourning the losses together. As men, oftentimes we are reluctant to do these things. Suburban Balance founder, LaShawn Walker, and her husband, Mark Walker, saw that it was time to change the narrative. That is exactly what they did. Lift Him Up is about holding each other accountable and having each other’s back in moments of weakness until they can gain their strength to help themselves, and then help the next brother that is down in pain.”

He said “we’ve all been there at one point in time facing some adversity.” He asked, “How will you respond in moments of adversity and pain? How will you seek out the best possible outcome given your set of circumstances?” He then stated, “Don’t be afraid of the challenge. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Step out boldly and be courageous.. don’t forget who you are and whose you are,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to help out the person next to you. It might be them today but could be you tomorrow.”

Every topic was on the table to discuss from depression to career challenges, to handling grief and pain, marriage and family. Success stories were shared and much more.

“Men displayed vulnerability, dignity, strength and truths. I felt so empowered being in the presence of those men. This is a much needed and necessary conversation”, Porter posted on social media.

“There’s healing that needs to be done, thanks Suburban Balance for laying the foundation for it to begin. I can’t wait for the next one,” said participant Brian Williams.

Lang’s memorable demonstration of asking a few men in the room to literally join together to lift up one of the men was impactful. Lang said it doesn’t matter how tired you might get or how impossible it may seem if you stick together you can use your strength to lift him up.

A safe space was created for the men to vent, challenge, and encourage one another.

This was a groundbreaking event that inspired men to have some courageous conversations around helping other men.

Men don’t typically come together to talk about helping each other. When they face a challenge they naturally just try to handle it on their own, said one of the attendees.

“This event breaks all stereotypes and myths about men supporting each other,” said Lang. “The men have collectively decided that it’s time to use their strength to lift each other up.”

Suburban Balance is committed to making this an ongoing event. The men are calling it a movement. The founder of Suburban Balance, LaShawn Walker, started Lift Her Up three years ago and after the 2019 Lift Her Up gathering that drew 300 women she turned to her husband and said honey don’t men need to be lifted up too?

The rest is history. Lift Him Up was born.

Suburban Balance wants to ensure the men also have a space to come together and be there for each other.

Well known neurologist and a good friend of Suburban Balance, Steven Arkin, traveled in from Ohio to attend. He was inspired to see a discussion about community support. He looks forward to more discussions including mental health within the community.

The event barely ended and men were already discussing plans for the next event. That’s how impactful this event was.

One dad said we need to make plans for a bigger venue space for next year as he plans to share the event with friends, family and colleagues.

A UCM college professor attended with a few of his students.

Prior to the program starting, the men ate breakfast, won prizes, networked, laughed and talked and supported a few vendors on hand before kicking off the morning program.

Men traveled in from Lawrence, Warrensburg, Shawnee Mission, Leewood, Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, Platte county and beyond. At least one traveled as far as Ohio.

Suburban Balance has been around for six years. Its mission is to provide educational and cultural opportunities to suburban kids of color to help them live a well-balanced life while growing up in their suburban communities or attend schools that lack diversity.

Walker said she’s honored to be a part of such an incredible organization and is thrilled that her vision of a family organization has come to past. It was always her goal for everyone in the family to benefit from the events and opportunities Suburban Balance offers.

“I’m so excited for the men,” she said. “They have started something truly special, life changing and ongoing.

“This is what SB is all about, uplifting and supporting families in the community because at the end of the day I believe we are all here to help one another.”