A sea of loving, responsible adults committed to the safety and happiness of children. A swarm of joyful children of all ages thriving amid the circle of love and protection surrounding them. These are images my mind’s eye could never have conjured as a boy, scenes I could never have dreamed of experiencing for myself.
But on Sunday, this is exactly the image that will unfold in Fairview Park, Ohio. And the boy who once knew nothing of such a beautiful scene will have created it.
There are many things I’m proud of in my life, milestones I celebrate reaching, and much for which I am grateful. Most people who endure what I have don’t survive at all, a fact that I never forget. The days of sobriety that have turned into years, the rage that has turned into passion, the pain that has fueled an incredible purpose – these things are an unbreakable canvas on which a truly extraordinary portrait is unfolding.
And you, my friends, are the paint, the crayons, the markers, the love that are bringing that portrait to life.
On Sunday, I will smile a thousand smiles and laugh until my belly hurts spending time with you and witnessing the enthusiasm and purpose we share at my first 5k and Rally Against Child Abuse. I will probably even cry tears of joy, as I often do when I realize anew that my life was destined for this.
Nothing is more important to me than protecting children from the horrors I’ve experienced in my life. Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than knowing that because of me, because of you, one less child will be abused and one less child will be abandoned in the aftermath of abuse. I will never be able to express how much that means to me.
I am just getting started. There is so much work to be done. But I can’t help feeling like my life has come full circle. Who was once an unloved, abused, throw-away child has become a joyful, tireless warrior in the fight to save our children. Thank you for sharing this with me.
I’ll see you on Sunday!