BETHANY, W.Va. – A Bethany College communications graduate is doing his part to boost morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthony Sparks ’13, owner of Sparks Productions in Morgantown, W.Va., posted a video on his Facebook page using #LoveDistantly that he said he hoped would inspire others.

“I just wanted to tell people that we are in this together,” he said. “That this will be a time to support one another in whatever way they may be.”

The video features short messages from Sparks’ friends, family members, and clients and opens with a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

All the featured messages reflect on the strangeness of society in COVID-19, but they also highlight the ability to slow down, to spend time with family, and the importance of doing small things to lift the spirits of others.

The video was released in late March, just before West Virginia and many other states enacted shelter in place orders, but its message is still on point.

“I knew I just needed to do something,” Sparks said. “I didn’t want to sit back and sulk when I could bring something to the table. I hope that it brought a smile to people’s faces. [I wanted] to give them a reason to get out of bed, to give them that extra oomph.”

Sparks Productions creates videos of weddings and events, real estate, and TV commercials in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio.

Like many business owners, Sparks said social distancing regulations have limited what he can do. He said four weddings and a few events on his calendar were canceled.

For his part, he sees the unexpected free time as a clean slate that allows him to accomplish the business tasks that always seem to be pushed back.

“There are pros and cons to this, but you have to make the best of it,” he said.

In the weeks since he released the video, Sparks said he’s inspired by stories that are coming out of his community.

For example, farmers are distributing their crops to people in need and restaurants are making meals for schoolchildren who are no longer getting school lunches.

“They’re taking a massive hit on revenue right now,” he said, “and for them to step up and say we have to give back, to me, that’s really striking.”

And, he said, it shows that help is out there.

“If you need something, there are people there to help you,” Sparks said. “You just have to pick up the phone and ask.”

Sparks, who considers himself a “glass half full guy,” hopes that COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place orders will spark a continued willingness to help.

“When life goes back to normal, people usually go back to the way they live,” he said. “But we can still [help out] when we can get out and when this pandemic over.”


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.