Windermere resident Brian Buckley created The Better Man Event to help equip and encourage other men to better themselves.
On April 13, 8,000 men will have the opportunity to learn how to become a better friend, student, coworker, brother, father or husband — and, overall, a better man.
UCF’s CFE Arena is hosting the 15th annual The Better Man Event, an annual event designed to equip, encourage and engage men to become better. And under event founder and Windermere resident Brian Buckley and his team, the event has grown from 48 men 14 years ago to more than 4,000 in attendance last year.
Buckley, a partner at the Insurance Office of America for 18 years, moved to Windermere 14 years ago. For him, the inspiration to become a better man came when he was 20 years old and he met his first mentor and role model. Before then, he called himself a “B-minus guy,” saying that he just did the minimum to get by in life as a brother, husband and employee.
“I grew up watching sitcoms, and the husband was always the idiot,” Buckley said. “He was the one people poked fun at — Fred Flintstone, Archie Bunker, all these characters that the man was always the one people made fun of. I think it was because men were never setting a bar or living to be better. … When I turned 20, I met a guy that taught me how to be extraordinary. He was an amazing role model to me in what would my life look like if I were to become better, extraordinary. He modeled that for me and with it came a work ethic that was beyond.”
Buckley’s faith also played a role in him wanting to make an impact and not just be a taker but also a giver. He decided he wanted to learn how he could be better by helping others and impacting other men’s lives just as his was by his mentor. Thus, The Better Man Event was born.
He asked some men he knew if they would be willing to help him bring his vision to life, and they did. All of this is volunteer work for both Buckley and everyone involved, but they know it’s worth it to be able to help other men become better.
“We decided at that point we were going to have an event,” he said. “It was just a gathering of 48 men, the first one. It happened in June 2005, and our first speakers were a financial-wealth manager, a psychologist and a family therapist.”
The next year, attendance nearly doubled to 90, and it continued to multiply in each successive year. This year, the organization is taking a big step and moving to the CFE Arena to be able to accommodate 8,000.
“People come back each and every year,” Buckley said. “Our biggest demographic is fathers bringing their sons and sons bringing their fathers. It’s the biggest night, a lot of dads tell me, of their year with their son. It’s easy for a dad to talk to this son about the Super Bowl and school and things like that, but this is an event where people walk out with tangible stories from our speakers on how they became better.”
This year’s speakers are: McKenzie Milton, UCF quarterback; Evander Holyfield, four-time heavyweight champion of the world; David Green, founder/CEO of Hobby Lobby; Jonathan Cain, member of rock band Journey; the Rev. Anthony Thompson, pastor and author of “Called to Forgive,” and Brad Stine, comedian and emcee.
And with a theme of “On The Edge,” Buckley hopes men who attend this year’s event will be inspired knowing that they are on the edge of something great.
“We can do something with our lives — we can impact those around us or we can just go through life,” Buckley said. “I hope when men walk out of this event that they are inspired to get so mad at being B- or C-minus that they go, ‘I’m going to be better.’ I hope that whatever their world offers them the opportunity to do, they’re going to do it.”