Submitted by Scott Dunn
I was meandering through life as a retail banker, and things seemed to be in some semblance of order: wife, kids, white picket fence. Then I was approached by a mortgage broker and offered an opportunity to reach greater production and to help more people. I willingly moved forward with the opportunity.
During this move, my brother-in-law contacted me about a home he was interested in purchasing with his fiancée. I was excited to work with Jesse and Sarah because I felt that helping them would make my work feel whole. We worked out all the kinks, and eventually they were in the home they had dreamed of in the past. Sarah’s young boy even had a father he looked forward to calling Dad.
Around that time, I received a call from Jesse about a letter he had received in the mail regarding insurance. I explained that this wasn’t a big deal as it is common for mortgage companies to offer accidental death, unemployment, and other types of insurance to clients. I explained to Jesse that, since he was currently a carpenter’s apprentice and Sarah was not yet tenured at the local public school, it was a good idea to keep the mortgage payment down, and we could pick up the insurance the following year.
Jesse died on September 17, 2006. His vehicle lost control on a rainy Sunday and ended up splitting a telephone pole. He died instantly and didn’t suffer. As I attended the wake and the funeral, I realized that the insurance which I had discussed with Jesse would have been extremely helpful to Sarah at this point. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of guilt. After the funeral, I told the family that I was going forward with a benefit event to help pay for the difference of the mortgage. This would give Sarah time to achieve tenure when she would be able to afford the mortgage payment on her own. I felt responsible and felt it was my duty to make sure that she could continue living in the home that she had purchased with Jesse.
In four weeks, we planned a massive benefit which consisted of a three course meal, a live band, an oral and a silent auction, and the dedication of a memory center for Jesse. There were two floors and fifty volunteers. There were two hundred and twenty-five silent auction items and twenty oral auction items. Over seven hundred people attended the event, and we raised over $25,000. I put everything that I had into this benefit because there was nothing more important to me than saving Sarah’s home. I did the calculations, and with $16,000, Sarah could make partial payments to the mortgage above what she could afford and could keep the home long enough to reach a tenured position which would include a higher salary. With the increase in her salary, she would not be forced to relocate.
We took the remaining monies and started a foundation. Namely, we created the 42 Foundation. Jesse was an avid sports fan and forty-two was his football jersey number. He always had a smile on his face, no matter the circumstances. He changed people’s lives because of his own attitude towards life. He was also passionate about children, and they flocked to him to play whenever possible. We created a non-for-profit foundation to honor Jesse which was geared toward helping children by fundraising sporting activities. While we were reaching out for sponsorships, I realized we needed to have 501c3 status to become appealing to larger donors. After completing the grueling paperwork, we were approved in record time.
We held numerous events, but the most memorable for me was the second marketed flag football tournament. This tournament was our first really big event. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I stood at the field wondering if it would be a success. The time to start grew near, and the players were not arriving. Fear and excitement gripped me. Then I saw all these cars coming down the street. They drove toward me and kept on coming. They wrapped around the long, curvy drive that lead to the beautifully decorated eight field youth football stadium. At that moment the event felt real. It felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest and stood on top of the mountain with an accelerated heartbeat and a heightened sense of accomplishment. Over nine hundred players and thirty-six teams arrived. The sense of accomplishment I felt that day made me realize I could do anything that I believed I could do.
In the end, Sarah was able to afford to keep her house, and during my five year leadership with the 42 Foundation, we raised tens of thousands of dollars to help rehabilitate children. I have never again felt the same level of accomplishment or felt the same desire to continue through sleepless nights and a tireless work schedule as I did then. I believed. I knew what I needed to do and that was all I needed.
* Visit the 42 Foundation Facebook page