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Help / Outreach
Whether you are a teacher, student, or a construction worker we all have resources of outreach and help. The hardest part in seeking help is that initial first step. It can take courage to face a problem but the worst thing you can do is ignore it. Whether you are depressed, have a drinking problem, being bullied at school, or what ever your dilemma is it's important you talk to someone. Your most reliable sources will be people like your parents, school counselors, teachers, or relatives. If you are in need of professional help going to a therapist, rehab, or a specialty institution can having lasting positive effects.
Again, it's the courage to get help that will save yourself in the long run. It can take a lot of trust to reach out for help. People like your parents or teachers have most likely been in a similar position at one time in their lives and can be a source of comfort and advice in seeking help. I know from personal experience being optimistic and having a positive outlook will carry you through hard times. In addition to reaching out for help it's important to find and embrace your anti-drug. For me it was and still is skateboarding, music, reading, movies, and more. I've said it before and I will say it again, find your natural highs they are everywhere.
 
What can you do?
Equally important as reaching out for help is the importance of giving help. We all have the unique ability to make a difference anyway we can, big or small. From doing volunteer work to the simple act of giving a friend some good advice or lending a caring ear. If you have a friend or relative that you see going down the wrong path or is sunk in depression your simple act of lending your voice and ear can help a great deal in their road to recovery.
Hope and optimism are both contagious. It takes courage and bravery to seek help and the same goes for giving help. But what's the alternative? If we care enough about someone or a group of individuals we should take the initiative to give help. Think of our mentors, teachers, doctors, and so on. Those who give without thought of reward, just the act of helping. There is a cycle and a sense to it all. Do what you can, where you can, to make a difference. 
The Bully

Recently I received a concerning email from a young man. I had seen him a couple times at the same indoor skatepark in my home state. It was obvious he had his own style and we always talked about being original with our skateboarding. His email started with, "I'm thinking of quitting skateboarding." He was being bullied and other skaters were poking fun of his tricks and were discouraging him from skating the way he wanted to. The depression underneath the paragraph was apparent. To me this wasn't just about skateboarding. Although it sickens me that something representing freedom and creativity has a population of people conforming and not accepting diversity in people. When I got into skating at the age of twelve it was to be an individual, to be part of something that had no rules or creative limitations. Being a big advocate of keeping skateboarding creative I encouraged him to never stop and to focus on what skating does for him personally. We should never change ourselves because someone or a group wants us to conform to their narrow definition of what cool is. As compassionate human beings we have a responsibility to accept and understand our differences. Innovation should be celebrated in any art form and not discouraged. A bullier or hater doesn't understand empathy and there's something within themselves causing them to be insecure and ignorant. Stand strong and be free to be yourself. It's a big world out there, so get out there and skate it... not hate it.
 
 

Doug Brown Random Notes:

1/14/13 - What's with all the "I hate my mom, my mom is such a this or that" posts on Facebook? To see these posts in a news feed saddens me. A few years ago I was having a skate session with my friends and I heard a disturbance at the far end of the skatepark. A crowd began to circle around a shaken father and his teenage daughter. She was yelling and cursing at the top of her lungs being completely irrational. I took a leap of faith and walked into the middle of her rant. I began by telling her someday she will regret yelling at her father like this. I told her how my mother passed away when I was her age and I live in regret for a lot of the things I said to her. I asked the girl, "Who paid for the water for your shower today? Who paid for your breakfast this morning? Who bought your shoes?" Her silent reply to my questions were apparent on her stunned face. I backed away and her tone towards her father completely changed and their rant became a discussion appearing to end in resolve. My intervention took courage, right or wrong I was glad I did it. I've been there. We tend to hurt the ones we love the most sometimes. When I was a teen I would lash out to my mom, I see it now that it was a hug in disguise. We were so alike and stubborn in our ways. My parents put me through a lot, boot camps, private schools, institutions, and more. As an adult I don't hate them for putting me through that. Whether it was right or wrong it has made me who I am today. Adversity makes strong people. So to the kids posting how much they hate their parents I ask you to question your intentions. Remember what they've done for you and given you, not what they haven't done or haven't given you. Respect your parents and others.

11/20/12 - Just received an email from a mother thanking me for inspiring her son. Stories like this are the real paycheck in the back account of pride and purpose. ("Your posts are so inspirational to my son! He says " wow, Doug brown does more than skate. He goes and visits sick kids in the hospital and brightens their day! I think that's pretty cool mom!" I said " That's awesome, there should be more people like him in this world and it would be a much better place" he says "ima become famous and be like Doug Brown and travel to hospitals to visit just to see kids." Thanks for instilling a positive side in him and not even knowing it! Thought I'd share to brighten your day.)


10/24/12 - Last night's event had a spark. What great energy and an enthusiastic audience. My highschool counselor Cherlyl Welch was there in attendance. I haven't seen her since I graduated 20 years ago. She was instrumental in helping me throughout my highschool years, was a thrill to see her. I went to bed last night with a feeling of satisfaction from the event. I had a feeling of "I'm doing this, I'm out there reaching people and making a difference in people's lives." All the schools and libraries I've been speaking to this fall, it's been unreal. The emails, the feedback from parents, the look in the kids eyes when I can tell I've reached them. I still continue to skate everyday and do skate events but the power that microphone has in my hands far outweighs anything I can do on a skateboard. It was a joyous evening, many thanks to everyone that came to the event.

11/26/12 - I don't have a big house. I don't have a lot of money. I don't have a fancy car. I chose a path of uncertainty and gamble. I've grabbed opportunities and chance which led me to a plethora of memories and moments that will last a lifetime. If you are chasing a dream with fame and wealth as your destination of happiness you may find yourself in a pool of unfulfillment. Our primordial desire is to eat, to survive, and to continue. I've seen money change people. How much does one need to fill a void or create a mountain of possessions? In our pursuit of happiness we should measure our success on what we do, not what we have or accumulate. When I was 14 my parents sent me to a survival boot camp in Billings Montana for three weeks. A ten person group with days upon days of hiking with fifty found backpacks and sunflower seeds for food. A three day solo expedition with no food alone in the mountains among the wolves and rattles snakes. That experience started my mental flight towards knowing what really matters in life. People matter, friends matter, family matters, and the little things do matter. When you have less the little things seem more. We won't be here forever folks. Spend your days wisely and focus on the here and now and what really matters.

A True Hero.
A friend of mine recommended I check out the documentary Murderball. It is a film about paraplegics who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs. The USA team overcomes unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. Staring in the Academy Award nominated documentary is Mark Zupan. After watching the documentary I was moved and educated on paraplegics. The mental strength of these men and the stories they shared were inspiring.
Little did I know that in the next two weeks I would receive a call from my agent. She told me there was a sixteen year old in the intensive care unit at Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio that I was to visit, Michael Cantu. Both Michael and his classmate were big fans of mine. His friend was aware of my work with Athletes for Hope. He contacted my agent and my agent contacted the Cantu family. Thus the connection was made to visit Michael immediately. Upon talking to his father, it was established the visit would be a surprise. I would be seeing him on the one week anniversary of his accident. Michael sustained a very serious neck injury on the evening of August 22nd, 2011 at a gymnastics training facility. He broke four vertebrae in his neck and had significant spinal cord damage. He had some movement in both his left and right arms and even felt a little pressure in one of his legs but that was it. Till this point Michael had an average of twenty visitors a day to visit him. Michael had a lust for life. He was very active with sports and a social life that flourished with friends.

Arriving at the hospital I made my way through the winding halls to the intensive care unit. I was looking pro skater like with my shiny new skateboard in hand. I approached the nurse behind the busy desk and began to tell her who I was. Before I could get my last name out she smiled and said, “You must be the skateboarder. Hold on, I will call down Michael's father.” I see Mr. Cantu in a black jump suit making his way down the hall. In a whisper fashion, he tells me how excited Michael will be. His fists are clamped and he has a kinetic energy about him. In a giddy manner he jumps up and down. Right away I know this will be something special and his father may be more excited about this than he will be. Both parents have been his cheerleader every second of this long frazzled week. His father has been by his side since the arrival that fateful night. Mr. Cantu is the dad of all dads. He is an author and accomplished musician. Creativity is part of his being and no doubt bleeds through his ability to be a father. As we continue to walk towards his room the dialog of excitement builds. “Thank you for coming I can't thank you enough for doing this!” still in the whisper fashion of excitement.

Taking a sharp left, I enter the room to where Michael's eyes are wide as can be saying “Oh wow. Man, dude, thanks for coming, wow, oh man.” Instant good vibes from Michael. You know when you first meet someone and they have that quality of instant friendship? That's how I felt with him. No dead air, no awkward silence. We got all the obvious necessities of the conversation out of the way. He gave me the go ahead to talk about how he landed in this position and what the status was. Mentally, Michael was doing amazing. He had a great attitude and positive outlook. As he told one of the physicians "I got myself into this mess and I need to get myself out of it." His positive attitude has been an inspiration to everyone. I laid it on pretty thick about how the power of his mind will save him indeed. We talked for well over an hour about the power of hope and the foundation of positive thinking. He didn't miss a beat. He was in the moment.
A week ago, he was able to run across the room or pick up a pencil. This day, his mind was the sole power of where he was going to go. It's a true test of human being. Mid way through the visit, a nurse came in to check on things. Face to face nearly touching noses with Michael the nurse asks if he needs anything. After she leaves, I say “Does the killing you with kindness overkill drive you crazy?” He replies with relief “Yes! You have no idea! Yes.” Continuing talking with him Mr. Cantu interrupts our dialog “This guy gets it (referring to me) he just gets it.” I reply “I try. We can never know what it's like to be in Michael's position, but we can try to understand.” It's easier to empathize with someone that has a broken foot or a splitting headache. This was on a level that no one could imagine unless they've experienced it first hand. He even spoke of the cute nurses that would come to his aid if he needed a drink of water or the change of a TV channel. The wheels were already turning quickly with Michael and his father. Mr. Cantu was busy doing research on his phone and laptop finding high tech ways for quadriplegics to use computers and function in this world.
I brought my normal supplies of freebies, including posters, but I figured the audio version of my book containing three CDS would be a good match for entertainment for him. Both father and son were pleased. In addition, I brought the DVD documentary of Murderball. I knew Micheal would connect with the star of the film Mark Zupan. Both athletes were aggressive men with their eye on the ball. In this case Michael's eye is on his future and to tackle what we take for granted. Our lives can change in the blink of an eye. After signing a couple of his posters and taking some photos it was time to leave. This visit lasted longer than my usual hospital visits. We were fluent in Star Wars, music and pop culture conversation. Mr. Cantu is in a band. Their house has the drum set and all the toys it takes for a good jam session. I assured them both that there will be a reunion soon, along with a jam session on guitars. The maturity, strength, and optimism Michael had was truly remarkable. There was a reciprocal understanding in our conversations that no matter what happens in the future this isn't the end. His life can take many different directions, but his state of mind and amazing resources will be key in his journey.

The father's love for his son was something to see. He is surrounded by many friends and a family that loves him. For me, all I could give were my words of encouragement and support along with bringing a smile into the room. I had entered the room as the pro skater guy and left being a friend to him and his father. I left with a sense of fulfillment and pride to see that already a week into this tragic dilemma they were going in full force with optimism being center stage.
Through lots of physical therapy, Michael went to the Metro Health Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Center. Over time he has become able to use his knuckles to change songs on his music player. He has become a hero to many throughout his school and community. Local media has been helping the family's efforts to raise money. Friends of the Cantus' and Michael's classmates have hosted fund raisers along with selling tee shirts and wristbands to help with expenses. After spending one hundred and fifty seven days in a hospital/skilled nursing facility, Michael finally made it home sweet home. He is back in school, with his new chair.
Michael's story is far from over. I told him he was like a brand new car with a strong battery. His mind is the computer of his system that is beyond remarkable. The mind is capable of miraculous achievement. We are all on that road with our minds behind the wheel taking us to our survival and happiness.


The Bully
Recently I received a concerning email from a young man. I had seen him a couple times at the same indoor skatepark in my home state. It was obvious he had his own style and we always talked about being original with our skateboarding. His email started with, "I'm thinking of quitting skateboarding." He was being bullied and other skaters were poking fun of his tricks and were discouraging him from skating the way he wanted to. The depression underneath the paragraph was apparent. To me this wasn't just about skateboarding. Although it sickens me that something representing freedom and creativity has a population of people conforming and not accepting diversity in people. When I got into skating at the age of twelve it was to be an individual, to be part of something that had no rules or creative limitations. Being a big advocate of keeping skateboarding creative I encouraged him to never stop and to focus on what skating does for him personally. We should never change ourselves because someone or a group wants us to conform to their narrow definition of what cool is. As compassionate human beings we have a responsibility to accept and understand our differences. Innovation should be celebrated in any art form and not discouraged. A bullier or hater doesn't understand empathy and there's something within themselves causing them to be insecure and ignorant. Stand strong and be free to be yourself. It's a big world out there, so get out there and skate it... not hate it.


Skating Straight
I'm not a policeman walking into a classroom telling kids to just say no. I'm a skateboarder who is living a dream because I chose to stay clear of drugs and alcohol. I have no problems preaching this message even with the backlash it can entail. I've seen people throw their life away because of substance abuse and it's no laughing matter. While home from touring a couple years ago I met up with a skater friend of mine from back in the day. He wanted to bring along a friend of his they called "drunk Tim." I thought this should be interesting. So we picked him up at his ex-girlfriends run down apartment. He entered the car and completely reeked of beer. With missing teeth he was showing us pictures of his son that he lost custody of. I had figured he was in his mid forties but soon found out we were the same age. All I could think is that this could of been me had I chose to turn to drugs and alcohol. We went to a nearby ramp and skated for a few. He was falling and stumbling about while people laughed and cheered him on. I didn't find the humor in what was taking place. I actually felt sad and unstoked to skate around him. The overwhelming feeling of keeping on the right path in life consumed me. Yeah, it might seem funny when someone is being a clown but it's what's underneath the surface of the activity that isn't so funny. I've carried this memory with me in my travels. I've been to events where I've been offered to do things and have always stood firm and confident in my beliefs. I get emails daily from kids asking about getting sponsored. Companies want someone that will show up on time and that is reliable. There is a very serious side to this subject. Getting involved in drugs is a dead end path, period. When I get down or depressed I jump on my board and moments later I'm in a different place, a healthy place. Find your natural highs in life. They're everywhere.

A Life Cut Short
A few weekends back I attended a skate memorial for the professional rollerblader James Short. James life at the age of only 24 was ripped away from him as a result of being hit by a drunk driver. A woman in her late forties struck James on his motorcycle and she survived. She was drunk and had marijuana in her possession. This hit home because I frequently saw James in my travels. We always talked skatelife. Him and I have been to a lot of the same parks. It was our joy for our sport and the fact that we both skated as a profession that shared our bond. What made James stand out was his thirst for the sport and his overwhelmingly positive attitude. I was a skateboarder and he was a rollerblader but it never failed, every single time we saw each other he greeted me with a smile and a hand shake and some good conversation. Never any attitude or ego. To his fans and the people who knew him well he has left an impression about being positive and was a friend to all. You would see James on the top of a ramp talking with bikers, bladers, and skateboarders. James life was cut short all from that woman drinking and driving. Don't drink and drive, ever.

Submitted Stories
 
If you would like to share your story send to hilarycalisports@yahoo.com All names and locations are changed to protect your identity.

Julie from Ohio writes:
I have known my 18 year old step son since he was 4 years old since then I accepted him as my own son. I have accepted him into my home with open arms. We became very close and talked about his drug use since he was 14. I felt he understood my lecture of how much it hurt his family that he was doing drugs. In February of 2011 he started hanging out with his old friends again. On Valentines day I went to pick him up at his Grandmothers only to find him high and back on drugs. His father and I decided to confront him and he denied it. After a big blow out fight he decided to move in with his grandmother. He had got himself a really good job and was bringing in the cash, life was going good for him and we thought things were improving.

March 20, 2011 was the worse day of my life. We got the call that no mother ever wants to receive... my son had died. He overdosed on drugs with his 19 year old cousin both found dead in his Grandmothers house. To see them bring my son out in a body bag, to see his lifeless face was the worse thing I have ever seen. I will never forget it. My heart has an emptiness that will never go away. After burying my 18 year old son and his cousin you can't help but ask yourself, "Could I have done something to prevent this?" One has to realize they made their own choices and I couldn't have stopped this. They will never know the pain this has caused their families and friends. He left his 17 year old sister without a big brother who always watched over and protected her. He left his little 4 year old brother who looked up to him as if he was a rock star. All this from simply taking pills, a senseless death all for reaching a high or buzz. We have to wake up knowing he is gone forever because of this. We will never get to talk to him or to to see his beautiful smile again. He was special and had great talents that would have taken him far. He had no enemies and was liked by all. The pain of missing him will never go away. On Monday June 14th 2011 we finally got the autopsy report.

DEATH - ACCIDENT - DRUG TOXICITY - REASON OF DEATH - UNINTENTIONAL INDIGESTION OF TOXIC DOSE OF PROPOXYPHINE ALONG WITH XANAX.

This report doesn't bring any closure to my heart knowing it was all accidental. I know he didn't want to die but that doesn't take the hurt away. This was preventable! Speaking out and letting people know drugs can kill you is an important message. We only have one life to live and by being drug free we can live it to the fullest.

Julie Age 35, Ohio

Zach from Detroit Michigan writes:
"Back in February of 2009, I thought my life was going great, I knew my dad drank but he wasn't out to get wasted every night or anything like that. It was just something he did at night after work. Well due to the economy being in really bad shape, he started to lose business. My dad is a contractor with a store and does carpentry work and such. Well he started to drink more and more every night. Well over time this build up and he was rushed to the hospital and spent 10 days in there. Since alcohol slows the process of digestion, everything backed up and the acid in his stomach tried to digest his pancreas. He almost died. He was in severe pain for 10 days, many IVs and shots to his stomach. I was extremely worried about him. I could have lost my dad. The skin or layer that protects his pancreas was totally destroyed. Even after he was released from the hospital he was in much pain for 1-2 months. This was the most frightening 10 days of my life. During this time my step mom would come home every night and just get wasted to try to ease the worry that my dad could die. My little brother is 11 and he would ask me why his mom had to come home and drink every night and get drunk. Ill never drink because of these two reasons. Drinking has destroyed my step moms life and almost ended my dads. Be smart. Don't drink."
Zach Age 16, Detroit MI

Jennifer from Plano Texas writes:
"This is a true story of how drugs and alcohol wrecked a mans life, and his sons, and then his wife's as well. Ok, it all started with my then husband going out on the weekends and returning home with gifts for me while acting strange. This went on for a few months and he began drinking quite heavily. Then openly for the first time he took drugs in front of his four year old child. I told him to quit or he would lose us. He changed into a monster with a weird look in his eyes. He basically gave up living in general. He would attack my son and I just for the sake of it. He ruined our lives for four years till one day he got up and left. We haven't seen him since. We have moved on and made the most out of the lesson we learned by this man. My son at age nine told me, "drugs don't work mommy." He vowed just last month to never touch or go near them. Truth be known he has grown up so fast and is not my little boy but now my little man. He is wise at just the age of 12. All this from seeing his dad make the wrong choices. And there is no way his father can make things right because a year ago today that man died from a drug overdose in his Florida apartment. A waste of a life and a waste of a father. So in conclusion know your limits and don't touch drugs all they bring is heart break and they destroy your life. Don't let your life be a waste. Thank you."
Jennifer Age 33, Plano TX

Shawn from Cincinnati Ohio writes:
"For starters I am Shawn, I am 20 years old and i currently reside in Cincinnati. I figure I will give you my life story. I have been through a great deal of things in my life. It all started when I was about 15 years old. I have never been influenced by peer pressure, I always have made decisions on my own with what I wanted to do in my life. Most of them have turned out being the wrong choices and it has stuck me in a rut.  Around age 15 I was drinking heavily everyday, i mean I would wake up out of bed before going to school and the first thoughts were, "How was I going to get messed up today?" It all started out as fun with friends and us all having a good time. Coming from such a small town we all had the same mind state. We didn't have anything else to do but drink, smoke, and skate. Well around age 16 is when I had my first real run in with the police. I was driving and was pulled over, they brought the K-9 unit in and I was charged with possession of drugs. I received probation and the terms and conditions of my probation was that I have no contact with drugs or alcohol. Well that only lasted about less than a week. At age 17 is when I thought I was at rock bottom. I was sent away to rehab after being locked away in a detention center for 3 months. I went to rehab which was only supposed to be a 4 month program well I was there for just a little over 10 months. In rehab I finally opened my eyes and realized what I was doing with my life and how bad I was just throwing it all away. When I came out I felt like a changed person. I went back to public school and went on to graduate high school. After turning 18 that's when things went really downhill. I have had about 7 more run ins with the police from the age 18 until now and I am only 20 years old. Most of my charges are drinking related. I have had about 4-5 underage drinking charges and 1 DUI . Honestly I shouldn't be here right now I have had near fatal run ins with some of the drugs that I have done. I have came very close to overdosing a few times, and I am not proud about any of this. I have hurt loved ones and I have lost things that I love in my life due to my drinking. My life is going good now and I've learned a lot from my bad choices. I'm not a angel by any means but I have toned it down a lot. If you're reading this and you don't know me then take my advice and put yourself in my shoes. Take a minute to think before you actually carry out what you're going to do because it may just be one of those nights, wrong place wrong time and you could either get locked up or even worse yet die. But thank you for reading this and for Doug Brown I congratulate him on what he's trying to do. It is definitely a movement and I hope people take awareness to this and actually take it to heart what people have to say, thank you, Shawn."
Shawn Age 20, Cincinnati OH

Rob from Baltimore Maryland writes:

"I was very shy socially, and drinking would ease that. I was hooked from the get go. I made a lot of new friends. I drank and drove many of times. Nothing bad ever happened. It seems like it always catches up to you though. I am now 26 years old, luckily. I have been arrested twice for DWI. I went through 26 weeks of alcohol classes. Finally my probation was over, and I felt free again. Of course, I learned nothing. I went to a bar with a friend. Had a million beers. Didn't think twice about getting in his car to go home. Later that morning, I woke up with a broken femur, a broken eye socket. I had no feeling in the left side of my face. Later I learned that the feeling would not come back. The dashboard had gone right through my leg, pinning me until the paramedics arrived. I also woke up to find that 12 feet of rope had been placed in my nose, because my sinus cavity was crushed. My jaw was also sutured shut.Basically, I was drinking one moment and the next I was laying in bed not being able to see, not able to breath. My mouth was shut, and my sinus cavity was broken so was breathing out of one nostril. Couldn’t move because I had a major break in my leg. How one moment can change your life is amazing. This was two years ago. I’m still going to physical therapy. Oh how I wish I could take that day back. Oh, all my drinking buddies? They’re all gone now. I was the one at the parties trying to get everyone drunk. Thank God I never hurt any one else. Well, physically anyway. Mentally I have done my damage. Lucky to be here."
Rob Age 26, Baltimore, MD

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