Urban Desert

Inspiration, Los Angeles

Urban Desert

No Comments 14 January 2010

Man trying on a pair of shoes

Man trying on a pair of shoes

The 13.1 Marathon event in Los Angeles started out like any other – EARLY!  Me and my photographer friend, Gregg Shaw, got up at 4am and headed to the start area to get set up for the daily donations that would take place as runners came through the finish line. Thank goodness Starbucks backed right up to the booth we happened to be sharing with our friends from Team World Vision. (funny how God works, he knows exactly what you need and when you need it, Thanks big Guy!) So we got our coffee in us and waited for the fun to begin. The race started on time at 7:15 and 2 hours later we were elbows deep in collecting shoes and taking pictures.  Not only did I hope to gather as many shoes possible that would be going to the Union Rescue Mission but also hoped to gather some great photos to use on our site.  As the people trickled in and the race ended we ended up with some great pictures and 200 pairs!

Me with all the shoes from the 13.1 runners!

Me with all the shoes from the 13.1 runners!

This is where our day really gets exciting.  Gregg and I head to downtown LA in the skid row area to meet up with Rev. Andy Bales at the Union Rescue Mission.  Only problem is when I call to meet him there is no answer. We arrive to skid row about 10 minutes prior to our 2pm appointment and if you have never been to skid row, it’s not really the place you want to just “hang out”.  We “stood out” more than anything but stumbled upon some people that had set up a make shift food serving area on the sidewalk and we asked to join them.  They had been coming down here the past 10 years to serve food to people in need on the streets.  I asked if we could share the sidewalk and hand out some shoes since we had a truck load waiting to be delivered.

Before I go any further let me paint you a picture of what skid row is like.  It is as hopeless as any place can be. Despair, Addiction, Tragedy, Anger, Helplessness all fill the air. Trash litters the surroundings like confetti but you can bet there hasn’t been a parade down here in forever.  The sidewalks aren’t used for walking but sleeping.  Police?  Nowhere to be seen. People walking about as if in a science fiction movie called “The Last Days”.  It is an urban desert.  Barely any cars, only people. This place is a concrete coffin for many.

I call the Rescue Mission again and still no answer so Gregg and I decide to start dumping bags of shoes on the sidewalk.  It takes only seconds before people start to come around and pick through the pile. I meet John, who tells me that it’s hard to keep shoes because people steal your stuff and without having a place to put it makes it hard to keep safe.  I meet Paul who tells me that without shoes his feet hurt, everything hurts. I meet Lolnel who tells me having shoes will help him and his wife get around to try and find jobs and get from place to place for food.  Then I meet Stacy who tells me he is on his way back to real life. He’s looking to get a job, looking to finish a program, only there for a short time. I sure hope so Stacy. He tells me that for strangers to give them shoes is like giving him a chance to take a step in the next direction. Now if that doesn’t say it all…

Me with John

Me with John

It’s now 2:30 and my phone rings, it’s Rev. Andy, “Where are you, I am at the mission ready for you.”  I tell him we are one block over handing out shoes and will pack up and be right there.  We get there and sure enough he had been waiting for almost an hour for me.  I try to tell him I called and called but his phone never rang.  As we finish giving him all the shoes he realizes his ringer was off and had missed my calls.

If he would have answered my call at 1:50 we never would have experienced that 40 minutes handing out shoes.  We never would have had the conversations with the nice guys like Paul, Calvin, John and Lolnel.  (funny how God works, he always knows exactly what you need when you need it. Thanks Big Guy!)

Me with Rev. Andy Bales from Union Rescue Mission

Me with Rev. Andy Bales from Union Rescue Mission

Not just another Birthday…

Inspiration

Not just another Birthday…

No Comments 25 December 2009

dsc_00412

As a parent I have been to many birthday parties that not only did I not know the child celebrating his or her birthday but also hadn’t a clue who the parents were.  That’s what you do as a parent; you go to parties that your kid is invited to and celebrate the birth of his friend. Can you imagine if you had a birthday party and nobody came to celebrate?  Neither can I.

Christmas is an incredible time for many and then there are those to whom Christmas is just another day.  The fact of the matter is, Christmas is a birthday party that everybody attends in their own way.  Tell me another holiday that everyone takes off work and stops their hectic routine of life to spend with their friends, family and hopefully, people in need.  I can’t think of one.

Not everybody will agree on why Christmas exists and I’m not here to tell everyone they should adhere to why I think it does.  As for me, I do believe in the Christian tradition that Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.  Ever since I was a kid I believed that Christmas was a time to celebrate the birth of Christ.  I’m sure my parents influenced me to believe that, but even as I grew to the age I am now, I still believe.

For years people have been celebrating the oldest birthday to exist. The crazy thing is people celebrate it and really don’t acknowledge why.  It’s amazing to think there are so many people who attend the biggest birthday party of the year not knowing who it’s for.  As for me, it’s not just another birthday.

And the angel said unto them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”. Luke 2:10-11

Happy ‘Relief’giving

Inspiration

Happy ‘Relief’giving

No Comments 26 November 2009

Sunrise Over Lake Michigan

Sunrise Over Lake Michigan

The dictionary describes the word ‘thankful’ as being pleased and relieved.  To be honest I never really thought of being ‘thankful’ as a form of relief.  At times we take for granted the things we have until a holiday like Thanksgiving comes along and makes us take a break from our busy lives to really think about what it is in our lives that give us ‘relief’.

For me, there are many things that give me relief.  My wife gives me relief from a life of being alone and without love. My kids give me relief from a life without pure joy.  God gives me relief from a life without unconditional love.  My job gives me relief from a life without the means to provide for the ones I love.  My health gives me relief to experience the outdoors and everyday tasks that get me through the day.  The service men and women who do all they can to protect this great nation give me relief from a life of worry.  My mom and dad give me relief from a life without support should my world come crumbling down.  My friends give me relief from not having people around to share in my goals and journeys.  The list could go on and on…

The only problem with experiencing such great relief is that with it comes the realization that 3 million people across this nation can’t say the same for their lives.  While I say a prayer of thanks for all I have been given relief from, I will also say a prayer for those who are struggling to find food, shelter and most of all love.

For if we can find love, we find hope and if we can find hope, we find relief.

The Reason

Inspiration

The Reason

No Comments 12 October 2009

I woke up today at 3:00 AM along with my volunteers, also known as Mom, Dad and Mac, my older son who you might remember from a previous post about what happened at the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. We all awoke from a short nights rest, ready to go to Charity Village as soon as we could in hopes of getting our booth set up at the Team World Vision tent. As I took the onramp onto Lake Shore Drive I noticed a couple people sleeping in the park on the west side of Lake Shore Drive under a blanket.  A blanket which I’m sure did nothing to keep them warm in the 32 degree weather.  Mac and I looked at each other and said to one another that they were the exact reason we were up before most of the population in the city on a Sunday morning.

Sidestepping all the mud in Charity Village from the previous days rainfall we made our way to the Team World Vision tent and began to set up. At about 6:30 AM the runners for Team World Vision gathered and began to overtake us with the 386 pairs of moderately worn shoes they had no more use for.  From there they proceeded to the start line for the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

The Reason

The Reason

Little did one of them know that their pair of shoes were about to become the reason that Give Your Sole exists.  A gentleman came walking through Charity Village and we soon realized the significance of that name.  He was obviously a man without a home or a good pair of shoes and asked what we were doing.  We explained to him that we were collecting shoes for people in need and from that point on our mission statement became a moment of action.  My number one supporter all my life, Mom, and now volunteer, sat him down and dug through the trash bags of shoes until he set his eyes on a nice pair of red and white Nikes. Off came his black tennis shoes that weighed him down and on went the lighter pair, a pair of shoes that he was incredibly grateful to have.  The smile on his face confirmed they fit and that he was pleased with the exchange.

A perfect fit

A perfect fit

It was obvious to Mom, Dad, Mac and I that the Good Lord put us in the position to help this man who had to walk through thousands of people to reach Charity Village and find our booth.  Not only that, but think about how many miles this man has walked and how many miles this pair of shoes has seen only to come together at that moment.

I’m sure I’ll never see him again but I know that every time I see a red and white pair of Nikes I will also see this man and realize that he is what made this pair special.

Inspiration

Little Givers

No Comments 26 August 2009

My Little giver

My Little giver

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Every parents learns pretty quick that their actions influence their children rather early in their young lives. Before you know it, a “mini” version of yourself takes form right before your eyes.  At many times that smaller version of yourself is often more recognizable to others than what you might see. This just goes to prove that as parents we really need to be careful not only about what we say but more importantly about everything we do.

There is a great saying that goes something along the lines of  “Would you be behaving this way if you knew your mother was watching?” As a parent we need to ask ourselves, “Would we be behaving this way if we knew our kids were watching?” Much easier said than done; trust me, I know. I’ve had many days when the way I acted should not be seen by anybody, let alone my children. The good thing is these times also made me realize what it means to be responsible and how to accept the joy in what can sometimes be considered a “dull” lifestyle.

When I started Give Your Sole I was in hopes my kids would get involved.  I knew my 15 year old was old enough to understand it and the importance of what we were doing, my 5 year old on the other hand, I was not so sure about. Until…he came home from being out all day with his mom shopping for school clothes.  He came running inside excited to announce to me that he had bought some new shoes and now he could give his old ones to Give Your Sole. Wow! Talk about a great moment for a parent. My little giver was taking shape; not in the form of me as his father but as what God intended for each of us to be; givers to those in need.

Inspiration

The night before…

No Comments 31 July 2009

It is the night before we start collecting shoes at the Health and Fitness Expo for the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and my anticipation is at an all-time high. I have been in the great city of Chicago for the last two months preparing for what is about to take place over the course of the next 3 days. All the meetings, all the social networking, all the praying, all the support from friends, family and those unseen and never met comes down to what lies ahead. Preparation is the work that takes place so that Faith can take action.

From this point forward what happens will be what the Lord has planned and that is fine by me.

Inspiration

Run for a Reason

No Comments 28 July 2009

sleepWhen you set out on a run are you running to get in shape?  Is the run for yourself?  Do you only have one goal in mind; to lose weight, to get ready for a High School Reunion, to be in better shape than the other people at the office?  Don’t get me wrong; these are all legitimate reasons.  However, the run sometimes has to be more than just about yourself.

Next time you go out for a run take some extra cash and be ready to hand it to someone in need or run by a cafe and buy a danish to give someone on the street. We all know that “Tragedy” is a repetitive theme in the news, so read the morning paper or news online and find a story that you can devote some thought and prayer to during your run. This will make the run more meaningful as opposed to just “another run you have to do today”, and hopefully it will get you thinking about ways you can make a difference.   Before you know it, your run will be over and with your heart rate up you will be ready to serve.

So next time you lace up your shoes, decide if you are going to run for yourself or run for a reason…or both.

Inspiration

Help donate 1,000 Pairs!

No Comments 20 July 2009

RNR Chicago

Our goal is to collect 1,000 Pairs and $1,000 at the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon 11 days from now!  We are asking those who donate their shoes to also donate $1 to Give Your Sole.  The money will go to help grow Give Your Sole and attend more race events throughout the coming year.  We will be at booth #125 at McCormick Place, Hall C on July 31st and August 2nd.  We will also be collecting shoes off of peoples feet at the finish line. Donate your race day shoes and receive a free pair of Give Your Sole flip-flops, (race runners on race day ONLY will receive the flip-flops) See you there!

Inspiration

Remembering Many, Admiring One.

No Comments 25 May 2009

grandpa-daleGrowing up in central Illinois I have numerous fond memories, many include my Grandfather Dale Crank.  Here he is in his Military Police (MP) uniform when he served during WWII.  Larger than life, he always welcomed me and my brother with open arms and usually put us to work when we visited his farm house in Dunlap, Illinois.  The smell of a burning brush pile, a damp basement and his zippo lighter will always be engrained in my memory.  My haircut could never be short enough for his military liking and I was always happy to oblige.

I remember the day mom got the call that he had passed.  Grandpa Dale liked his cigarettes and they eventually were the cause of his death. His funeral was something I won’t soon forget even though it took place when I was a kid.  Many aged Veterans stood at attention saluting one of their own, one of them with his hand trembling from the Parkinsons that had taken hold of his body.  Bang!  Jump. Bang! Jump. Bang! Jump…21 shots rang out and I’ll be darned if my brother and I didn’t jump after each one.  At that moment the grief set in and we all began to weep as the United States flag was folded and handed to mom.

Many years have passed since that day but the happy memories from our time together will always be close by.  Mom volunteers at the local VFW which I think helps her stay connected to Grandpa. Sometimes it’s hard to let go, but then again, someone so admired should never be far from our hearts.

Thank you to those who have served and continue to serve.

God Bless.

Inspiration

The Power of a T-Shirt

No Comments 03 May 2009

Tim coming...

Tim coming...

Tim going....

Tim going....

Apparel accounts for $6 billion in sales annually…35% of that is from T-shirts.  The cotton canvas is the way to go if you need to get the word out about a cause you are passionate about.  

Today we woke at 5 am to spend our waking hours running the OC half marathon with hope that other runners would notice our T-shirts. We didn’t run to set a personal record and we didn’t run for self preservation; today we ran with one thing in mind; to promote Give Your Sole! Just two guys running among thousands, trying to stay ahead of enough people so they could read the Give Your Sole mission statement screen printed on our backs. It worked!

 About 5 miles into the race a nice lady struck up conversation and asked if we would be collecting shoes at the finish. “Unfortunately not today”  I said, “but we will have a booth all 3 days at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon at the end of the month.  Will you be running that one?”  “Yes” she said, “I will see you there and will bring my shoes.”  Over the next 8.1 miles many more people struck up conversation and shared their support for Give Your Sole.  

Thank you to those who took time out of pursuing their goal to ask about Give Your Sole.  Thank you Tim for allowing your body to be a billboard for a day.  Ahhh the touch, the feel, the power of cotton…..

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