When you go to the ballpark to catch a baseball game, one of the most common sight of America’s favorite pastime is the beerguy. He goes up and down selling his drinks helping the fans cool down a little. In Chicago, that’s exactly Adam Carter’s job. He is there at Wrigley stadium and The Cell. White Sox or Cubs doesn’t matter and he has been doing this job for more than 15 years. But what happens when the season is over?
Adam doesn’t stay much in Chicago. He heads to underdeveloped countries and give away his profits. He started doing this in 2003 and has been going to a different place every year since. Don’t think that he is just a disorganised lunatic. Quite the opposite.
Born and raised in Chicago, Adam holds an Anthropology degree from the University of Michigan and a Masters degree in International Development from George Washington University in DC. In between those two degrees, Adam traveled extensively around the world and was profoundly affected by the poverty he found himself face-to-face with. Then he wondered, as a simple beerguy what he could do.
Through his non profit Cause & Affect, Adam raises money during the baseball season. Then he chooses a specific place he wants to support and through his contacts he finds a well run non profit that needs funds. He usually by-passes the big NGO and heads directly to the place he has chosen. There, collaborating with the non profit chosen earlier, he helps them by giving the much needed funds he raised. He also give a hand with his own time, trying to understand the best ways to fight poverty.
Throughout the years, Adam has assisted local projects in countries such as Brazil, Cambodia and Colombia and spent last off-season in West Africa, where he helped under-equipped schools, under-funded health clinics and local children’s organizations in seven countries. That’s what I call stepping up to the plate
This is a guest post by Jaspreet Singh Sahni, a journalist from India. You can enjoy his writing at his blog, Star of the Day.
His movement may be restricted but his determination knows no limitation and that eggs him on to perform like a man on a mission, at times outshining his able-bodied counterparts, on the badminton court.
Tarun Dhillon is just 12 and he is visibly different from others, not because of his disability but his ability to overcome it. He was 8 when he met an unfortunate accident that seriously injured his right knee. His movement got restricted and ultimately the knee had to be operated upon, twice. Though the first surgery was unsuccessful, the second seemingly went well. “The second surgery was slightly more successful as I regained movement, but my knee was still jammed,” Tarun clarifies.
It was a year later, at 9, when he turned to badminton. “I picked up the racquet because it exercises every part of your body. My coach Rajiv Mehra has helped me a lot. Although my movement is comparatively slower than the rest on court, I just love the game,” Tarun said. His tenacity echoes in his statement: “I constantly like to challenge myself against those with no disability. It should never stop somebody from doing what they love.”
His resolve is there for everybody to see in his achievements as he began making his mark at the school and junior levels. At 11, Tarun was crowned India’s number one shuttler in the physically challenged category for juniors. Along the way, he became a gold medalist in the national championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.
With success touching his feet, he landed into the hands of Prakash Padukone (former Indian international) at his academy to train for Asia cup for the disabled last December. While he finished third in the doubles event, he lost to a 35-year-old Malaysian veteran in the singles.
“When I first saw Tarun, I realised that he wanted to prove to the world that his disability is only physical. I have been coaching him since he picked up the sport. I have been training him mainly on his movements but his courage, skill and determination are extraordinary to say the least,” says his coach.
Via Star of the Day
Petar Ristic loves basketball. He used to be a member of the junior national basketball team of the former Yugoslavia. Now at age 40 he is a coach sharing his love of the game with kids. Last year he went on a trip to Southeast Bangladesh with his partner who is working for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.) What he found in the two camps he visited near the border with Myanmar took him aback.
In the Rohingya refugees camps of Nayapara and Kutupalong, despite the genuine efforts of the UNHCR team members, he was met with despair and boredom, especially coming from the children who make up half of the 28,000 Muslim refugees. Most of them were born in the camps. The lack of education and other opportunities gave them a lot of frustration.
Petar, known as Pero in the camps, knew he could help them because in his home country after the war, the children needed special attention. Through sports, he was able to teach them vital skills they needed to succeed in life. “Why not here?” he thought. He started a basketball program with 25 kids but couldn’t imagine the snowball effect he was about to create.
Fast forward one year later. Petar is now teaching table tennis, volleyball, basketball and football to 700 girls and boys of all ages, including disabled children. He has been hired by a NGO from which he gets sports equipments. Even the police of the camp can be found kicking the ball with the kids. By practicing organized sports, the children learn important life skills like working together and respecting each other. The sports field also provides a safe place for them to talk about their problems. Now they have hope and dreams. Via unhcr.org
Next week is World Refugee Week. You can donate to help the UNHCR provide better living conditions for refugees before they can find a new place to live. Petar Ristic is doing his part in Bangladesh. What can you do from your computer?
These days, football players seem to be doing more than football.
22-year old Myron Rolle, born in Houston, TX, is an oustanding athlete who was ranked number one high school prospect. He then helped Florida State University win many victories. Having just graduated he seems promised to a brilliant NFL carreer. Yes?
No, because the safety of FSU has other ambitions. He wants to become a neurosurgeon. Many would just be happy with a career as a football player or a doctor in their lifetime. Not Myron who has very specific goals far in the future. He has earned his bachelor degree in 2.5 years and will be heading soon to Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar, to earn a M.A. in medical anthropology.
What about his potential NFL carrer? Recruiters will have to wait as Myron put the emphasis on studies. Also, having just created a foundation bearing his name to support global health and education, he has already planned after retiring from the NFL to go back to the Bahamas, where his parents and three of his four brothers were born. There, he will open a free health services clinic on Exuma island.
His parents played an important role in creating an atmosphere of respect and drive. At home, the brothers learned to address everyone with “yes, sir” and “no, sir.” If a question was asked, no one would answer “what?” While driving, Myron’s father made sure to ask questions, so there was no idle time for their minds. Because his parents believed that an idle mind lead to trouble. Obviously they were right, as besides Myron, his brothers include a lawyer, a banker and a nursing student.
Myron Rolle’s website
Sometimes you have it all at a very young age.
American Mark Lewis was doing exactly what he wanted. Passionate about sailing since he was 12, he was enrolled in a program of college studies on a ship that was taking him for a 100-day trip around the world. It was all about meeting new friends and exploring cultures. Suddenly, it all came to a stop when a swimming accident in the Seychelles left Mark quadriplegic.
“Life is what you make of it“, told him the doctor in the intensive care unit. Mark cried quite a lot but finally remembered those precious words. Nine months later he was back to school and graduated cum laude. More importantly, soon after he was in a boat, sailing again. He formed a sailing team and made an unsuccessful attempt at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. Having learned from this, he is doing it all over again for the 2012 Paralympics in London.
What’s even more interesting about Mark, are his views on life. Supported by his family and having surrounded himself with great friends, he tells us that whatever path you choose, it will not go exactly as planned. Those misfortunes, you can use them to your advantage. As Mark says about his quadriplegia: “I am taking one of my lemons in life and turning it into an opportunity.”
I look at my own life and I see times where lemons were handed to me. Did I turn them into opportunities? Rarely but when I did, the lemons blossomed into wonderful experiences. How about you?
There is no time for regrets. More lemons are coming. More opportunities!
Mark’s inspiring blog: Take On Life
If you follow the NFL you know Amobi Okoye. He is a defensive tackle for the Houston Texans. He is not yet 22 and became the youngest player ever to be drafted in 2007 at age 19. Not bad for someone of such a young age. Even more interesting is that Amobi, immigrated for Nigeria with his parents when he was 12 having never played football before. He also achieved academic success by majoring in psychology and graduating one semester earlier.
Is he the ultra-gifted-talented-boy, the Michael-Jordan-style that appears once in a while? Amobi would tell you no and would credit his parents and tight-knit family for his achievements. He says that his two biggest influences have been his father and his mother who encouraged and believed in him.
That could be the end of the story: a young NFL star player enjoying the good life. But Amobi feels he has been lucky. He feels like many kids don’t have this chance to have supportive parents and he feels like if your belly is empty it is difficult to be a good student.
So he created his own non-profit, the Amobi Okoye Foundation. He rallied other young superstars players and took them to Nigeria to raise awareness, distribute scholarships and improve education and living condition. His foundation has done much more than that in and outside the US and he just came back from another trip to Africa. And he is not yet 22.
What Amobi Okoye is doing we can also do. Look around you. I am sure there is a kid, someone who is looking for some support, some encouragement, he or she is not getting at home. Don’t blame the parents, just give some of your time to that kid. You never know, a 5-minute talk or playing time could have a tremendous impact down the road and change his or her future.
He was the bus driver when the Sri Lankan national team was ambushed by terrorists last month. Risking his life, he drove the players to safety. He is now a hero in Sri Lanka. Via guardian.co.uk
The first time David Valle went to play outside of the US, it was in the Dominican Republic. As he said later, he didn’t know what to expect and was relieved to see many children running towards him after he left the ballpark. After all, back in America, kids would ask for his autograph all the time.
He was stunned when he finally understood that they didn’t care much about him. They were hungry and just wanted some food. Shaken by this experience he made the decision to help them and their families.
In 1995, one year before retiring, he founded a non-profit, Esperanza, which means hope in Spanish. Since then, through microfinanced loans he has helped hundreds of Dominicans start a small business to end the circle of poverty they were trapped in. He has now expanded operations to neighboring Haiti.
Update: an example of Esperanza’s success: Milan Tapia
He just happened to witness an accident while driving. He didn’t hesitate and ran into a truck set on fire to save its driver, just on time. Via WRAL.com
A rare blood desease claimed his four limbs. In Ohio, this didn’t stopped him to become a Top 16 wrestler in his age category. Via 3news.co.nz