How Did You Get Put In Charge?
A few weeks ago, I came across a news article about a young boy in my community that was being bullied. The kid was only 17 years old, a junior at Pleasant Grove High School in Utah. Some of his fellow students had thrown some shit on his car and it was truly horrifying. What made me feel sad was when I read the article and realized this young man had been adopted from Haiti when he was ten years old.
I have a special bond with Haiti as it was there in 2014 that I first visited an orphanage and fell in love with those kids. I returned multiple times, and eventually, as I started working with Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad, I began to work even closer with the country. Tim and his wife Katherine were in the process of adopting two kids from Haiti themselves and O.U.R. was working diligently to help other families do the same. Katherine set up and founded a beautiful organization named ‘Children Need Families’ with the sole purpose of helping other families to adopt kids from there as well.
Last year I had the chance to be a part of a few of these events when we surprised these amazing families with the news that we would help them in the cost and challenge of going through an adoption. On top of that, I had fallen in love with one of the kids from the orphanage and I even tried to adopt her myself. Her name is Jenika. She is a princess, and fortunately for her, a beautiful family recently adopted her, and she is in her new life. Her memory will always be with me and that love I have for her and any kids from that beautiful country Haiti.
After I read the article, I got up to go to bed, but something was bothering me, “How could this be happening right down the street from where I live? And why was nobody doing anything about it?!”
There were already over 250 comments on the article, but not one person was talking about what to do about it, just internet outrage all over the place. This is not the Utah I know; this is not the community I know. Instinctively I knew that this was just a few idiot kids causing issues, but those were huge issues. As I laid down in bed, I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking to myself, “I know I can fix this entire situation.” I thought of Jenika and what I would do if it were her being bullied. I thought of Tim and Katherine and their kids. I knew I had to help.
I went back downstairs and fired off about 20 texts, made some calls, set up a Facebook page, and let the community do its magic. Within 12 hours, I had over 100 people that had reached out to me to help. I had over $2500 that had been donated to help throw an event for Luc and the other kids so that we could unite them together. I had over 20 business’s offer to donate everything from gaming chairs to Jazz tickets to a year’s worth of car washes. Through my contacts, I was able to get the message to a few of the athletes with ties to the community and shortly after Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, Youtube star and fellow soccer player Garrett Gee from the Bucket List Family, and several members of the Utah Jazz had reached out to see how they could help.
The next few days were awesome. Rudy Gobert bought Luc some front row tickets to that week’s game. Donovan Mitchell texted Luc and spent time with him at the game, having an uplifting chat. The community truly came together and showed what type of place Utah is. To be honest, it became a little overwhelming because so many people wanted to help. I had a chance to meet with Luc and his dad at the game and I saw how special the past week had been for them. The narrative flipped to a good one both for him and for the entire community. Our work was done!
I posted a picture with Luc and his dad on my Instagram and one of my friends asked me in a message, “How did you get put in charge of all of this?” I didn’t understand the question, but I understood what he meant. I let him know, “Nobody put me in charge of anything; we just did it.”
I was talking to one of my close friends that had helped me a ton with all of the things that went on and he said something I loved. He said, “We did it simply because we could.” And I kind of love that. In life, we don’t need permission to do good things. We don’t need permission to start a cause or rally a group for good. Too many times, we hear of something that we don’t like and we just start commenting on the internet about how somebody needs to do something. No real action takes place.
Next time you find yourself in this situation and you see something you don’t like happening, put yourself in charge. Be the change. On my wall, I have a special quote from a conversation I had a few years ago with a girlfriend. She didn’t want me to go undercover anymore and help with the rescue of kids. She thought it was too dangerous and she said to me, “Can’t they just go and do it?” I responded, “We are the they.”
What is something you can put yourself in charge of today to make the world and your world a little more beautiful of a place? What is one injustice you have seen recently that with a little effort you can help make a little bit right?
“WE ARE THE THEY”