Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Charlie Brown - an "Inspiring" Hero

Many of you have already read about Charlie Brown and all the hard work he has done to help win contests on behalf of Joplin after the tornado. What? You haven’t heard about all he’s done?? Then you should click here, and here to see some of the things I’ve written about him.

If Charlie is declared the overall winner in’s “America Inspired” contest, he will win $50,000. And if he wins all that money, guess what he’s going to do with it? Donate half of it right back to Joplin, of course. Specifically, he has pledged to donate $25,000 to Homes of Hope, Joplin, if he wins the grand prize.

This is a very unselfish man.

I met Charlie this past summer while he was working at one of his many voting marathons out at Cunningham Park. Since I serve on the city’s advisory board for the Parks & Rec Department, I thought I’d go and check out what he was doing to try and help us win some major bucks from a couple of contests sponsored by McAlister’s Deli and Coca-Cola. It was crazy. First of all, he had lots of refreshments available, raffles for prizes such as Chiefs tickets, laptops, and Kindles, entertainment for the kids, and computers for voting. Keep in mind, these celebrations took place before power was restored to the park – somehow Charlie had procured a couple of generators to help keep things running smoothly.

I had to find out what made this guy tick. So, I went over and introduced myself to him.

“Hey, it’s great to meet you. Thanks for coming out to support us – can you sit down for a few minutes and vote?” And then he was on his way to greet someone else and help sell some “Hope for Joplin” bracelets.

I was patient, though - and really wanted to help him win that money for Cunningham Park. I knew how daunting the task of restoring that park was for our new park director (and by daunting I of course mean expensive). So I sat down at a laptop and voted. And voted. And voted. I voted until I developed carpel tunnel syndrome.

And then I went back to talk to Charlie.

And I learned his life story.

I am humbled by the editors’ selection of my story about Charlie as a top 25 finalist. There are countless amounts of people doing scores of amazing things to help make the world a better place. One thing I have learned from the tornado is that people want to help other people – sometimes they just don’t know what needs to be done. When you have good leaders, though, volunteer efforts can be guided in a more productive manner than when there is chaos and anarchy (which is often present after a natural disaster). Without someone like Charlie to research legitimate opportunities and also present a unified front for “voting” contests, Joplin would never have been the recipient of over $270,000 in prize monies.

Charlie wasn’t simply going “above and beyond the call of duty”. This was not his job. This was something he found he could do to help the citizens of Joplin recover from the worst natural disaster that has ever happened to this community.

And that is why I nominated him: because he was just a regular guy who somehow managed to touch our hearts and got us all to do a little something extra in order to get ourselves back on our feet.

Don’t forget to go here to vote for Charlie – time is running out!

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