The journey of picking up the torch of inspiration to inspire the youth generation of America has truly been an incredible, empowering portion of my life that I do not want to see stop. From the hospital room at the Phoenix VA Hospital, to the high schools across Maricopa County, these are the moments in my life that I live for, to look into the eyes of our young people and see the hurt, the struggle, the helpless souls, and the forgotten youth. I never imagined that my story would have an impact, but God gave me this story and I have decided to share it with our youth.
I began my speaking career by speaking at an event I had created to celebrate my graduation at the University of Phoenix, and my going into remission of the lymphoma cancer, but also launching The Change Youth Project. I stepped up to the microphone in front of my family and friends and I began to share, but I also began to think and during that speech, a vision came to me. Within that vision, I saw myself speaking to thousands of directionless youth across America, giving them hope for another day. My vision needed a reality, so after my special event, I began to reach out to many schools, but 90% of the schools in Maricopa County rejected me. Day after day, I would receive rejection letters and email responses declining my request to address the student bodies of these high schools. But, I had already made a commitment that I would never give up on my fight to get into the schools and to the microphone. All I wanted was the microphone and the bleachers filled up with the entire student body.
Many people ask me, how I sustain my Drive to inspire the youth. My drive comes from the directionless life I lived as a lost teenager on the streets of Miami. I know what it’s like to feel like the outcast of the family and among your friends. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and hopeless, I know what it’s like to feel like you are not good enough or smart enough. And I know what it‘s like to give up on everything including your dreams, and to end up dropping out and walking out of school. My drive comes from seeing our youth go through the same struggles I went through. I have died to self and I have decided to inspire others, mainly our youth.
Life is about making the right decisions which will help us to become better citizens and humans. I am driven because I choose to be successful. My success is due to my faith in God. As a single father, I have overcome many obstacles, but the challenges haven’t made me strong. What has made me strong is my desire to strive for greatness. Becoming debt free, becoming more independent, becoming a cancer survivor, and pursuing my graduate degree has truly kept me focused on the bigger picture in life.
“What has made me strong is my desire to strive for greatness.“
Where does the Passion come from? The passion comes from this cover picture of this blog post. When my incredibly talented photographer showed me this cover picture of the little girl in the wheel chair and the young man so focused on my speech, I knew I had found my passion. This cover photo was taken at my speech at Desert Edge High School in Goodyear, Arizona. The students there were unbelievable, and they truly inspired me to continue my mission of inspiring our youth generation for positive change. I think passion is doing what you love because you know you are good at doing it. That’s why you do it and love it. Looking into the eyes of our youth and feeling that connection is powerful. They won’t listen to their moms and dads, but they are hearing and seeing me and the connection is there, somewhere in my story. They are connected, whether it’s me talking about my being a drop out, battling cancer, rising two kids as a single dad, fighting with my late father because we struggled with our father-son relationship or my serving overseas in the war zone of Iraq.
The youth culture, when they hear me speak, they connect and it’s my responsibility to value that connection and respect that connection by hearing their hearts. I hear them, and I truly respect them. Therefore, I have decided to write more blogs. I am in the planning stages of the creation of my podcast show and I hope to add sports programs to my youth platform to inspire more youth through my volunteering and community service. After successfully completing the stem cell transplant medical operation at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in the winter break of 2017/2018, I am completely healthy and I am ready to get back on stage, so I am also working on the preparation of my speeches and completing my manuscript for my second memoir that I am planning to release in Spring/Summer of 2019. The sky’s the limit for The Change Youth Project and I am excited to continue my Drive & Passion to Inspire the Youth Generation.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt