Posts Tagged ‘violence’


The cast of A Year of Giving: Patrick Miller, Devon DuPay, Reed Sandridge, Steve Langley. Photo: Timothy Sharpe

It was the fifth and final night of A Year of Giving at the 2012 Fringe Festival. We sold out the day before and had several people trying to get tickets at the door – unfortunately they were turned away.

The performance went very well. I was really happy to that my friend Anthony from Day 67 was in the audience! That being said, the evening was a bit sad in that the show was coming to an end. A lot of hard work, time, energy and heart went into bringing this production to the stage and I am very thankful for all of those who were a part of that.

On this final evening, I gave my $10 to a woman seated near the back of the audience. I picked her because she kept looking straight ahead when I went into the audience…you know the type that is saying, “Please don’t pick me.” I actually like to choose them! Well, instead of me telling you how it happened, I am going to let Dale S. Brown, my $10 recipient that evening, tell you through her words that she so kindly sent to me via email. Here you go.


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This post is a little out of order, but I will get caught up on the ones I skipped by this weekend.  I am getting behind doing my day jobs, planning for the Year of Giving Celebration next Tuesday, giving my daily $10 away and planning the next year’s commitment!  Trying to sleep now and then too!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I took my father to see a Hershey Bears hockey match.  I would often go to the games as a child with my Boy Scout troop.  I used to enjoy them, but this time I didn’t really enjoy it.  Partly I think because the people that sat around us were loud and obnoxious the entire game.  The other factor was that it became pretty clear that the fans showed up more for the fights than they did the hockey. 

The Bears easily won 4-0.  The nearly 10,000 fans packed into the Giant Center Arena would celebrate after each goal however if you really wanted to see cheering all you had to do was wait until somebody started punching his opponent in the face.  “I want to see somebody bleeding on the ice,” a fan who was behind us said casually. 

I’ve been to many Washington Capitals games and have not felt this same blood and guts mentality.  Anyway, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

After the game I suggested to my dad that we hang out inside the arena for a while since getting out of the parking lot was sure to be an abysmal experience.  He and I walked down a little bit to the area where wheel chairs are allowed and saw two older men chatting away.  At the first opportunity I inserted myself into the conversation and explained my mission.

George, a man probably in his late 60s or early 70s with cotton-like flowing beard, told me he wouldn’t accept the ten dollars.  “I don’t know why,” he started “just because.”  I turned to his friend Melvin and asked him the same question and got this response, “Well, I don’t know either, but if that is what you want to do than I guess I’m OK with it.”

It was incredibly hard to hear Melvin.  The acoustics were funky where we were standing and he was a bit of a soft talker so I feel like I got about 70% of the story.  The 73-year-old from nearby Campbelltown, PA told me that he’s retired from the transportation business.  “I loaded and unloaded the trucks,” he said just loud enough that I could hear him.  He also was a volunteer fireman for many years.

Giant Center Arena

To his left there was a metallic cane that leaned against the railing.  “I broke my pelvic bone,” Melvin shared.  “I did it right after a game here come to think about it.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell trying to get through the aisles.  The aisles are so thin that you can barely squeeze in and out of the aisles.  I nearly dropped a platter of chicken tenders, french fries, ketchup and beer all over the row in front of me because I could barely get by some women in our row.  Not to mention that I too probably would have landed on their heads.  It’s possibly the most poorly designed, not to mention dangerous, seating area that I have ever seen.

Anyway, Melvin said he was doing better now and that this was the first hockey game he had made this year. 

I asked him what he planned to do with the money and he didn’t know for sure.  “I’ll probably use it to take my wife out to breakfast in the morning,” he said after pondering it for a moment. 

A man who looked to be in his 40s walked up the aisle and stopped to talk to Melvin.  It turned out to be one of his three children.  They got to talking and I figured it was time to go and said goodbye.

Melvin preferred not having his photograph taken and didn’t leave me any contact information, so I will probably never know if he reads this or get any more details on the whereabouts of that ten-dollar bill.  I wouldn’t have gotten a good picture anyway; the arena wouldn’t let me bring my camera in.  They have a strict no detachable lens camera policy which I think is silly.  “We do this to prohibit professional photographers from taking photographs at the game,” I was told by a security guard.  I was surprised since I always take my camera to NHL games and have never had a problem.  This was the second time in two weeks that I have been turned away at the gate of a sporting event for carrying something that was not allowed in the stadium.  Maybe I ought to just stay away from stadiums.

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I hope to announce the venue for the Year-End Celebration tomorrow!  It will be Tuesday, December 14th from 6:30-9:00pm here in DC.  If you will be coming and you use Facebook, you can RSVP here.  If you live thousands of miles away or are allergic to kindness and wont be able to go but still want to be a part of it, there is a chance I will have a live feed on Facebook….still working that out.  I will also be raising money for a few awesome charities during the event.  If you wont be able to attend but would like to contribute – I don’t know….$10 perhaps – you can click on the link at the top right of this page that says DONATE.

Freddy has been driving a cab in DC since I was three years old!

Today I present to you Freddy – a DC native who has been driving a cab since 1977.  A good cab driver can tell you as much about people and character as they can about how to get to the airport during rush hour and avoid all the traffic.  I love to talk to cabbies everywhere I go, especially foreign countries – as long as we both can find a language we share.  The worst was a Moscow taxi driver who spoke to me in Russian, which I made painfully clear I didn’t understand, and proceeded to speak to me for 30 minutes.  I just said “da” and “spasiba” a lot.

I flagged Freddy down over in Northeast, DC and headed over near Georgetown in Northwest.  We began talking and I enjoyed the banter and thought I would give him my $10 for the day.  He accepted it but said he had no idea what he was going to do with it yet.  I am going to try to follow up with him and see if he decided yet.

In the last 33 years he has seen everything and unfortunately I mean everything.  “In 1989,” he began to tell me, “I was shot four times and left to die.”  He said he picked up two passengers who asked to be taken to Takoma.  When he got close they pretended to not know exactly where they needed to go and finally asked him to pull over near a pay phone where they got out and conversed a little between themselves.  This is the point at which he should have left.

They got back in Freddy’s cab and asked to be taken over to Piney Branch.  On the way over one of them put a hand gun to his neck and demanded his money.  He handed it over and got out of the cab and was shot four times.  Once in the side, once in his hand, once in his thigh and once in his butt.  “The one that went in my butt is still there…they didn’t take that one out.” 

Fortunately he survived the horrific ordeal and continues to drive his cab.  “Most people are alright,” he optimistically said as I handed him the fare.  “It’s just a few of them who ruin it for the rest of us.”

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Versión en español sigue abajo.

Today’s story is going to move you. I have been thinking about Alirio since I met him.

On my third day in Manizales, I participated in a very interesting event. The Centro Colombo-Americano in Manizales invited the youth choir from Colegio San Agustín to sing at an inauguration of the recently renovated and rededicated Centro Colombo-Americano’s cultural center and John F. Kennedy library. This event was attended by Manizales Mayor Juan Manuel Llano Uribe, Caldas Governor Mario Aristizábal Muñoz, and US Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield. The children performed beautifully and Ambassador Brownfield was very gracious in taking time to shake their hands and share a few words with each of them.

Later in the day, I attended a meeting at the Manizales Normal School with the representatives of the 12 schools that the Secretary of Education has selected to concentrate their efforts on for the Manizales Bilingüe project.  After the meeting, Roberto and I walked about a block to where his car was parked. A few feet away from the car was Alirio, a 33-year-old parking attendant. The local system is to put a slip of paper on the window for each hour that the car is parked. We had three slips of paper on our window.

Reed talking with Alirio and his son Cristian (Photo: Roberto Ceballos)

In theory, this job is simple. Accurately account for the time that each car is parked there, go and collect payment from the vehicle’s driver when they return, and report the totals to the city’s Department of Transportation. But this job presents unique challenges for Alirio who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. I contemplated asking him about how he became paralyzed and took a risk and politely inquired. I was not prepared for the horrific story that accompanied the explanation.

Alirio’s family had owned three coffee plantations in the 1990s. The paramilitary forces paid him and his family a visit on multiple occasions trying to extort money in exchange for protection from the FARC guerrillas. He always refused.

The threats began to intensify and culminated in a bloody massacre which resulted in the murder of his parents. He was shot twice. A bullet that entered his neck and exited under his arm left him paralyzed. Three years later the harassing continued and his sister and her boyfriend were also murdered in a roadside attack.

Click below to hear Alirio speaking about the loss of his family members as well as what he plans to do with the $10.

I listened to his tragic story. My attention 100% focused on every painful detail.

His life was forever changed. With his son Cristian by his side, he does what he can to get by. His dream is to drive a car again.  “I still own a car and would really like to be able to drive again someday. But for that to happen I would need a special adaptation for the car so that the foot pedals can be controlled by hand.” This is out of Alirio’s economic grasp.  I have added this to the Lend a Hand section. Perhaps a company who learns about Alirio’s tragic story will graciously modify his car at no cost so that he can once again experience the freedom of being able to drive himself places.

As for the $10, Alirio will add it to his savings. He has worked since an early age and has always been a person that saves so that he can hopefully retire at an early age and provide for his family.

Spanish Version

La historia de hoy te va a conmover. He estado pensando en Alirio desde que lo conocí.

Después de tres días in Manizales participe en un evento muy interesante.
El Centro Colombo-Americano en Manizales invitó el coro juvenil del colegio San Agustín para cantar en la inauguración de la recientemente renovada y re-dedicado Centro Cultural Colombo-Americano y la librería de John f. Kennedy. En este evento participo el alcalde de Manizales Juan Manuel Llano Uribe, el gobernador de Caldas Mario Aristizabal Muñoz y el embajador de E.U en Colombia William Brownfield.  Los niños hicieron una actuación muy linda y el Embajador Brownfield fue lo suficientemente grato en tomarse su tiempo para darle la mano a cada uno de estos niños y compartir unas cuantas palabras con cada uno de ellos.(vea el video arriba)

Mas tarde en día participé en una reunión en la Escuela Normal de Manizales con los representantes de las 12 escuelas que el secretariado de educación ha escogido para concentrar sus esfuerzos en el proyecto bilingüe de Manizales.  Después de la reunión Roberto y yo caminaos una cuadra en donde estaba su vehículo estacionado. A unos pies de distancia de donde estaba el carro estacionado, se encontraba Alirio, un empleado de parqueo de carros de 33 años. El sistema local es poner un papel en la ventana de cada carro por cada hora que un vehículo está estacionado. Nosotros teníamos 3 papelitos en la ventana de nuestro automóvil.

Parking lot tickets (Photo: Reed)

Teóricamente este trabajo es simple. Un conteo actualizado por el tiempo que cada auto permanece estacionado, ir a colectar el pago del chofer del vehículo cuando regresan a sus carros y reportar el total colectado al departamento de Transportación de la ciudad. Pero este empleo presenta retos únicos para Alirio que está paralizado de la cintura para abajo y confinado a una silla de ruedas.

Contemplé en preguntarle acerca de como él fue paralizado y me cogí el riesgo y le pregunté. Yo no estaba preparado para la horrible historia que acompañaba su explicación. La familia de Alirio eran los dueños de tres siembras de  cafetales en los años 1990.  Hubo un tiempo en que algunas fuerzas paramilitares trataban de extorsionar dinero de Alirio y su familia para protegerlos de las guerrillas del FARC. Alirio y su familia los rechazaban.

Las amenazas empezaron a intensificarse y culminaron en una sangrienta masacre que resultó en el asesinato a sus padres. A él lo abalearon dos veces, una bala que penetro en su cuello y salió por debajo de su brazo lo dejó paralitico. Tres años más tarde las amenazas continuaron y su hermana y el novio de su hermana también fueron asesinados en un ataque de carretera. Haga un click en el video mostrado arriba de Alirio hablando sobre la perdida de los miembros de su familia y de lo que él piensa hacer con los $10.00 dólares.

Escuché su trágica historia. Concentre mi 100% de atención a cada doloroso detalle. Su vida cambio para siempre. Con su hijo Cristian a su lado el hace lo que puede para seguir adelante. su sueño es poder volver a manejar un auto otra vez. “Aun tengo mi carro y me gustaría muchísimo en realidad poder volver  manejarlo algún día, pero para eso necesitaría una adaptación especial  en mi carro para que los pedales del carro puedan ser controlados con las manos.”  Esto está fuera del alcance económico de Alirio. He incluido esta historia en la sección del “Lend a Hand“( Prestar una mano). Quizás, una compañía que descubra la trágica historia de Alirio podría gratuitamente modificar su auto sin costo alguno para que el pueda una vez más vivir la experiencia de poder movilizarse libremente.

En referente a los $10.00 dólares, Alirio lo va a añadir a sus ahorros. El ha trabajado desde muy temprana edad y siempre ha sido una persona que ahorra para poderse retirar a temprana edad y apoyar a su familia.

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