It’s amazing how one random chance meeting can turn into something that can have a lasting impact on your life.
|Seven Year Old Andre|
I would like everybody to meet Andre.
I met Andre at an event hosted by Visit Wichita. It was an event kick-off for Wichita Restaurant Week in support of the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas.
The Boys and Girls Club Chief Professional Office, Juston White, was on hand to speak to all those in attendance. He brought one special guest with him. His name was Andre.
Juston told a little about Andre’s story and what Andre did in the community. By the end of the story, there were some eyes in the room that were no longer dry.
The story was enough to move me, not to tears, but to the point where I felt like incredibly worthless.
Let me fill you in on Andre’s story. Andre participates in the Boys and Girls Club. He is very active, kind, generous. If you name a positive attribute, he’s probably got it.
During the summer times, he (along with his sister and mother) goes out to other people’s yards who don’t have lawn mowers and cuts their grass for them……For Free. He doesn’t charge them for time or gas. He does it out of the kindness of his heart.
When I finally had the chance to meet him, I asked him what was the hardest part of mowing the yard. He responded, “Pushing the mower.” Admittedly, I have someone cut my yard for me. Then to hear that a seven year old was using a push mower to mow yards made me want to slap myself. He also stated that it’s hard for him to start the mower. Not because he isn’t strong enough because he assured me he was but because it was too long for him to reach. That made me feel even worse because I doubt I’m strong enough to even start a mower. Totally kidding….. kind of….
To really move you even more; in the colder months Andre will make peanut butter sandwiches and ask his mom to take him downtown and hand them out to those people in need. I’ve been told they are some of the best peanut butter sandwiches and one that I may have to review sometime. I asked his 11 year old sister who came up with the idea of doing this and she replied, “It’s all Andre.” He makes these sandwiches with his sister and mom with their own money and any money people donate. There are times he forces his mother to take him downtown to hand out sandwiches. I think the last time I forced my mother to take me downtown was to get my car.
|Tatianah and Andre|
So to sum up Andre. You have this seven year old philanthropist who chooses to go out of his way to help out all sorts of people in need. He wasn’t pushed or forced to do any of this himself. Truly amazing and inspiring to anybody of any age.
Having spent the early part of my life in one of the poorer parts of Wichita, I was incredibly touched to see a child at that age already working diligently to make a difference. I couldn’t just stand there. I wanted to thank him and reward him. Pay it forward so to speak.
Fast forward a week later and Andre was able to attend a Wichita State Shocker game with his family in style. After reaching out to some people, I sincerely want to thank my friends at Koch Industries and Coach Gregg Marshall for making everything possible.
|Better receiver than I am|
From sitting behind the bench, to catching mini-balls from the cheerleaders and meeting all the players and coaches, Andre was able to experience something I hope he can carry on for the rest of his life.
I told Andre that everybody in the community appreciates what he does and to keep up on the acts of kindness. We didn’t want him to think it was a thankless job and that good people get rewarded.
That moment felt like a great time to give some advice to him. For a second, I thought about referencing Hulk Hogan and tell him to, “Train, say your prayers, and take your vitamins.” but I stuck with something even more generic.
I said, “Work hard, study hard, and one day get to college to which he quickly responded, “…and be a Shocker Maniac?”
“Yes Andre, be a Shocker Maniac….. where championships are built.” I know readers, I totally stole that line.
During the game I asked him, “What player would you want to meet the most?”
Andre immediately responded, “Shaq.”
So after the game, we walked through the tunnel towards the locker room, watched the post game celebration. As Coach Marshall was walking by to head to the media room, he immediately saw Andre and told Andre he will be back but be sure to celebrate with the players. Who’s the first name Coach Marshall called out to meet Andre? It was Shaq. He read Andre’s mind.
Andre was incredibly nervous at first while approaching Shaquille Morris.
Shaq was incredibly endearing to Andre. Within seconds, Andre pulls out a list of questions which nobody saw coming and starts firing away at Shaq,
“If you were to make a movie, what would it be about?”
“Would you rather have a bicycle or a boat?”
“What toy or gadget would you keep if you could only keep one?
Shaq replied to the multitude of questions and then asked Andre a question himself. “If you could be anything you wanted to be when you grow up, what would it be?”
Andre’s answer? A Wichita State Basketball Player.
Andre then proceeded to go around the locker room meeting player after player and memorizing everybody’s name one by one.
We ended our evening meeting and chatting with Coach Gregg Marshall. He was much better at giving Andre advice than I was. He let Andre know his kind actions were appreciated and wanted to see Andre back at another game and visit with all the players again.
It was a chance of a lifetime for Andre on Tuesday night; one he deserved so much.
His mother texted me later that night and said, he couldn’t stop talking about it the whole time. A moment he may very well carry on with him his entire life.
When you start to wonder if society is going to make it in the future, please think about kids like Andre with the biggest heart in the world. Meeting him and hearing about what he does gives me complete faith.
Also a huge shout out to Juston White and the entire staff at the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas. The work they do in molding children to be upstanding citizens is incredible and a charity that doesn’t get enough spotlight in town. And again thank you to Koch Industries and Coach Gregg Marshall for making his night something bigger than Christmas.
To end our evening, I asked Andre one final question.
“Andre, what are your three favorite restaurants in town?”
The first one may be of no surprise to anybody but he responded, “McDonald’s, Chik-Fil-A, and Golden Corral.”
Thanks for reading and learning about Andre: a 7 year old philanthropist and future Shocker.
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