GENEVA -- On Friday night, the opening ceremonies celebrated the most talented athletes in the world.
Right here in Northeast Ohio, there is a man who is bringing Olympic-sized dreams to life. It's a sports complex in Geneva, but that doesn't even begin to describe what's really going on there.
A long paved road and bright signs lead the way to the Spire Institute. The exterior is deceiving. To understand the magnitude and mission of Spire you have to step inside.
"It's really cool to watch that pure excitement in them," says Ron Clutter. The Geneva businessman and his wife Tracy are the visionaries behind this more than $100 million sports mecca.
The Clutters' roots are in Geneva. And what they've built from the ground up could soon become the gold standard of the sports world.
"We've been successful ourselves. We want to share our success with those that have been part of helping groom us," he explains.
The Spire Institute serves as a place to develop the growth and character of everyone who steps through its doors.
What they experience are the best facilities that money can buy: a state-of-the-art competition pool, an indoor track and field considered to be one of the top in the world, and a 5-thousand seat football stadium.
Every square inch of Spire's 750-thousand square feet is meticulously planned. We asked Ron why this was so important.
"You are not going to see Taj Mahal lobbies or very expensive trim and everything to wow people from that end. We put that money into the surfaces, the track surface, into the turf, the swimming pool, the nutritional center. We felt that everybody coming in here deserved to have a chance to play on the world's finest stuff. So it gave them the chance to do the very, very best they could," Ron says.
And everyone benefits from the best facilities money can buy. Day campers train alongside NFL players at the Michael Johnson Performance Center.
Local high school students are coached by Olympic champions. Even grandmothers can grab a well-balanced meal in Spire Fuel cafeteria.
"If we never have a gold medalist here, yet we have gotten people to better themselves at any age, no matter what challenges they have, we will have fulfilled our mission," Ron says.
And that mission becomes clear when you spend a little time with the Clutters. They base their success on the ability to help others. The Spire Institute isn't just a sports complex. It's their way to give back.
"Personally, I think this country is the greatest in the world. And it will be the greatest in the world as long as we continue to give people opportunity," Ron says, as tears brim his eyes.
Join us Thursday, August 2, as we take you live to the Spire Institute at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Channel 3.
We'll show you what's attracting some the best talent, and coaching from all over the country. The first class of Spire Institute students arrive this fall. Dorms will soon be built.
But the road hasn't always been easy. There have been hurdles as you'll hear from Ron as we share more of our interview with him on Thursday.