Saturday, October 19, 2013


The entire premise of my blog is to remind people that each one of us matters. That each one of us has the power to make a difference.  This blog is usually reserved for my more spiritual side, not my working girl side.  But this story is too big, too cool to not let it be here.  It belongs here.  

The past few weeks I have seen something amazing come together all because of the work of one person.  

I love my job.  I love that I work with awesome teachers and staff who continually amaze me with their efforts, their compassion and their hard work.  I love the kids I work with. They are funny, smart, caring people.  During the past month of the Colorado floods I have seen story after story of hard work, kindness and giving.   This story is one of those that make you smile, choke back a tear or two, and make you stand a little taller for being a little part of it all.  

A few weeks ago, Alex, a junior  at Silver Creek High School came to see me.  He wanted to do something to help people who had been affected by the flooding.  He told me he wanted to get VANS to donate shoes, hoodies, t-shirts and hats to flood victims.  These kids, he said, needed to have some cool stuff, not just generic t-shirts from Walmart, or someone's leftover shoes.  He had a fire in his belly and I loved seeing that.  

This young man is no longer part of my leadership program.  He is a very talented musician, part of our school's incredible Drumline, marching band and very active in many music classes at SCHS.  He felt his schedule could not allow him to stay in SCLA.  I get that.  Sometimes there is just not enough hours in the day to do all we want to do.  I am proud of kids who sort out their priorities and figure out how they are going to be as successful as they can in high school.  Even if I lose them out of my program I am still a huge advocate for them. I was thrilled that he came to talk to me and asked me to assist him how I could with his idea.   

So here we go, a high school kid that loves music, likes wearing VANS stuff, and wants to help kids affected by the flood.  Alex starts making phone calls, starts sending emails and the cool thing is that VANS says yes.  Alex connects with Shawn Gruenhagen, the Sales Rep for Vans in Colorado.  He tells Alex VANS loves this idea, and they would love to come to Longmont and give some stuff away. 

It took us a little bit of time to sort out a location, date and time.  Alex went all over Longmont and Lyons talking to leaders in the community, juggling school and band competitions. Alex got the folks at LifeBridge Church to offer their parking lot to host the event.   Alex kept pushing when others might have quit when things didn't go quite the way he would have liked it.  He stayed positive, and stayed focused.  He was going to get cool VANS stuff to the people who lost a lot, no matter what it took.   

So the day arrives....Of course, it snows the morning of the giveaway. 
This event would be held in a parking lot.... outdoors.  ugh..

But the sun came out, like it does in Colorado. The snow melts by lunchtime, like it does in Colorado. Shawn pulls up with a trailer full of boxes.  We show up with two classes of SCLA students.  Tents go up, a trailer is unloaded and boxes are unloaded and sorted.  

Shawn was amazed that we had a crew of 60 students arrive.  We had 12 parents drive to get us there.  Our teachers juggled their class plans to make sure our leadership students would be there to help, and to give our students another real life experience making a difference in the community, and not just talking about it in the classroom.  Another very cool part of what we do in SCLA. 

Vans had donated thousands and thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.  

I was worried that not enough people would come.   I was not sure that the word got to all the right people.  There was soooo much stuff.  

Alex was organizing everything and everyone.  He was awesome.  

The event was scheduled from 4-6pm.  At 3pm people started lining up.  More volunteers came to help.  The head secretary from Silver Creek, a flood victim herself, came to help.  

 Girls from a rival high school's basketball team came to volunteer.  None of that stuff mattered, it was all about helping the people in our community.  That community, knows no school colors, or team mascots.   

We are Longmont strong. 
 We are Lyons strong. 
We are Frederick strong. 
We are Jamestown strong.  
We are Boulder strong.  


Mormon Missionaries came to volunteer. 

By the time 4pm rolled around the line was long and people were waiting to pick out some great items all for free from VANS.  Shawn welcomed everyone and let them know how the distribution would  work.  People would all get to take five or six items each.  

Hundreds of people came.  Hundreds of people to thousands of items home for free.  Some people, after standing in line for a really long time, wanted to meet Alex.  They wanted to give him a hug.  

He looked at his mom and said, "I hate hugs!"  
She laughed and said, "Lots of people here want to give you one."  

Alex disappeared back into the tent to get back to work.  Back to help people find the shirt they wanted, get a hoodie or choose a backpack.  He didn't need to be in front, in charge and taking credit.  He was in the trenches, working.  

Leading by example.  

At 6pm the last few people got to take a few more shirts.  The backpacks, the shoes, the hoodies were gone.  Everything was gone.  The small group of people wrapped up by cleaning it all up.  

There was the unlikely group of people, who came together because of one young man who wanted to do something cool for flood victims.  

He wanted people who had lost so much to know we were still thinking of them.  

To all the kids at Lyons High School who are still going to school in an old building in Longmont, Alex is still thinking of you.  

 To the people who are still sleeping on their grandma's couch, Alex is still thinking of you. 

To those of you who are living in a hotel room, Alex is still thinking of you. 

And to those of you who are wondering how you are going to rebuild your lives because your houses are completely gone, Alex is still thinking of you. 

And because of Alex, the rest of us are still thinking of you too.  

Just think, a kid who loves playing the drums in Longmont, Colorado decided to do something to help others.  He reached out to those who could help him make his dream come true.  He found an awesome company that wasn't afraid to  say  "Yes" to a great idea. 
 He has incredible parents who didn't tell him it was too big, or too hard or would take too much time.  I am glad he reached out to me because I like to say "yes" as much as I can too.  
Volunteers from all around the community joined in.  

If this is not a wonderful example of the ability of ONE RANDOM PERSON to make a difference, I don't know what is.  

So, dream big.  Don't be afraid to try. 
You may have plenty of people who will say no, but there is someone who will say yes. 

Because we all can make a difference, one random person at a time. 

For more pictures and info check out #VansFloodRelief on Twitter and Instagram 


  1. Here's a "virtual" hug for Alex. Because Alex rocks. :)

  2. I was blessed to come not only as a flood victim, but to also stay and give back as well. Thank you to Alex for all the time that went into making this happen. Thank you for not giving up. Thank you to VANS for saying "yes". It was a wonderful day of I will never forget. Everyone involved had a smile on their face and I knew they wanted to be there, doing good. My heart is full. And you know I love you Carrie! You are such a great example to me. I see you with those kids and read your postings and you inspire me to be a better person. Much love!

  3. Well done, Alex and your friends at Silver Creek High School!! What a great thing to do for your community. This makes me want to go buy VANS! Thank you!! Our future is in good hands with young people like this leading the way!!