The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

Be inspired by Niswonger Speaker Series

I have to admit, when the idea of a speaker series was initially proposed, it was hard for me to get excited.  After all, we are a performing arts center, I thought.  Well, now that we have had numerous speakers at the Niswonger, I find myself not only enjoying, but looking forward to the next one.

It now is quite obvious what our mission is when you drive by on State Route 118 South.  Three big, colorful banners hang on the front of the Performing Arts Center stating our mission: educate, inspire, and entertain.

Last night (Monday) in the Van Wert County Foundation Saltzgaber Music Hall, we discovered what inspiration is all about. Buckeye football All-American and NFL All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman talked to about 800 people and you could have heard a pin drop. It wasn’t the sporting accolades that caught everyone’s attention: it was his message of hope and courage that captivated the audience members. His wife, Stephanie, battled breast cancer five times before finally succumbing to the deadly disease in 2009. She left four children and a devoted husband.

If you are not familiar with the Stephanie and Chris Spielman story, and if you were not able to attend last night, you can google and read on line or better yet, purchase and read the book That’s Why I’m Here. It was a night of laughter, tears, and certainly inspiration. This is quite often what we experience at our Niswonger Speaker events.

Next up in that series will be another story of immense courage and forgiveness when Luke Zamperini shares the story of his father, Louis Zamperini.  This will be on March 6 of next year.  Many of you may have seen the movie Unbroken, which was in theaters this summer. The book titled the same is an incredible read and can be purchased or checked out at the Brumback Library. A community read is being held where those who have read the book can come together to discuss it.  That first community read will be held in the First Federal Lecture Hall on November 12.

The Louis Zamperini story is an amazing one of courage and redemption.  I can’t recommend it enough. Then to have the opportunity to hear his son, Luke share first hand experiences with us will be truly amazing. Louis was a World War II soldier who survived 47 days on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean before finally being rescued, only to have it be by a Japanese warship.  He then became a POW and went through the most gruesome treatment imaginable. The real story however, is the redemptive side of Louis Zamperini. You just must come and hear his son, Luke, on March 6. He grew up hearing his dad tell stories we could not imagine.

Inspiration? We could all use some, and probably more often than we think. This is what many of our speakers offer and I, for one, am glad I was talked into a Speaker Series at the Niswonger.  I invite you to be inspired at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.


POSTED: 09/29/15 at 10:14 pm. FILED UNDER: News