Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Walk With Dave

When New York Times Bestselling Author Dave Pelzer arrived outside Van Dyne Gym at California Baptist University, he waited patiently for me as I finished answering logistical questions for the day. He had arrived for his speaking engagement at Stop The Pain, a Teen Summit I was co-hosting. I saw him there, but it didn't dawn on me who he was. His tall build, military presence, and handsome appearance told me he was important, but it wasn't until he removed his aviator style sunglasses, that I realized it was Dave.

The mania of the day immediately calmed.

As Dave and I walked the campus, his high intuition immediately caught my attention. We had barely met, but it seemed as though he knew me for years.  He delivered a personal message, telling me to make a plan and make it happen.  "Focus," he said, on delivering a unique message to the youth - not only on a local level - but a national one. The pressures of being an author, nonprofit director and prosecutor began to lighten.

Twenty minutes later, I sat in Van Dyne Gym and listened to Dave deliver a similar message to a crowd of 750 teens and parents. He even used the "F" word - FOCUS. Focus on your plan and make it happen.

After our presentation, my walk with Dave continued as he signed books and built up youth with similar words of encouragement.  I could have sat the entire day talking about goals, writing and resilience, but Dave dashed off into the wind to hit March Air Force base and I dashed back to the Summit to handle logistics.

At the end of the day, I took another walk; this one was with Alfonso, a student volunteer. I learned that after his father had been murdered, he left the Army and decided to become a doctor. He wanted my opinion about his idea of opening substance abuse treatment centers for at-risk Hispanic youth. I delivered Dave's message to him in my own words - Do what's right in your heart and make a plan from the start.

I'm old enough to know that Dave's message is a universal one, but wise enough to know that he saw something special in me. Just like I saw something special in Alfonso. It became apparent that Dave's high intuition, from being a former Air Force pilot used to making snap judgments, was still lingering in the air. Afterall, March Air Force Base was only a few miles away.

Thank you Dave for making the Summit and my day special!