Archive | June, 2010

Big Changes

30 Jun

There has been a lot of activity here lately! Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working hard on a new look for the website, and we’re proud to announce that it’s finally ready! So what will you find?  Here’s just a taste:

  • New photos under the Places & Faces tab show where we’ve been and where we’re headed next!
  • Are you a number? Find out where your matching shirt has gone or will be going by entering your number in the search box on the top right
  • Find out more information about the places we’ve gone by clicking on the location on the Places & Faces tab–and check out the photo galleries at the bottom of each location page.
  • Check out the Get Involved tab for ways to join our movement or apply to be a campus representative!
  • The new Shop page makes it easier than ever to become another (or another number!)
  • Read the summary about what we do on the About Us page for an inside look at Be A Number.

Click around, check it out, and enjoy!

Soon, we’ll be announcing some exciting new changes to more than just the website, so stay tuned! Here’s a little hint: if you haven’t gotten a shirt yet, now’s the time–there are only a limited number of these styles left!

The blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter are becoming more and more popular, so join in if you have an account! Connect with our founder, Kevin Hershock, on his blog, FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn too!

What will we be up to next? Only time will tell! We can’t wait to keep growing and connecting people from all over the world!

“We count numbers, we count on people, but what really counts is when we use our numbers to take into account, our people.” – Chip Conley
Be someone to count on. Be A Number.

The Littlest Lessons

28 Jun

We’ve just returned from the latest shirt drop, which took place in Mount Laurel, New Jersey at a conference on Pallister-Killian Syndrome (PKS). The children we visited there were such beautiful, happy children, even though they experience many day-to-day challenges.

Founder Kevin Hershock posed for pictures with children and their families.

PKS can go undiagnosed, which makes it difficult for many parents to give their children the help they need. The conference was aimed at raising awareness for the condition among medical professionals and community members, and we couldn’t have been more excited to be a part of it. Kevin spoke to the parents and children about living a complete life, regardless of the ability to amass wealth or accomplish record-breaking feats.

Satisfaction in life, he said, comes with finding a way to help others, to build a legacy full of pride, and to have an impact on the world that your great-great-grandchildren will be proud of. Although the children face so many difficulties, they too can have a positive impact on the world. Through organizations like PKS Kids, these children are making others aware of their situations, which inevitably will help form an irreplaceable bond among families affected by the syndrome.

Though a PKS diagnosis may seem sad or even hopeless to many, it was striking how joyful the families were. Even the atmosphere of the conference was positive and inviting. While most conferences feature business casual attire, at least, and often drones of monotonous lectures and statistics, this was much different. Children laughed and played together as they enjoyed a good meal, while the adults chatted and compared stories about their children. Attendees were dressed in everyday outfits, and didn’t worry themselves with the politics of overly-formal introductions.

A touching family moment gives just a taste of the positive outlook the families affected by PKS had.

We had the opportunity to meet an incredible former fashion photographer, Rick Guidotti, whose photos have appeared everywhere from Elle Magazine to Revlon ads. As we enjoyed a delicious dinner, Rick told us about his newly found passion: photographing a new type of beauty.  Beauty that can be found not just in what is considered in the modeling world to be beautiful, but in the every day person. He has dedicated the last 12 years to taking photos of people with genetic disorders all over the world, and was excited to meet and photograph the PKS kids.

His excitement was contagious, and impressed upon us an important lesson: the smallest differences in our DNA or the tiny chromosomes that makes us who we are do not dictate our happiness or beauty. Instead, they are a way for us to learn about and appreciate entirely new aspects of the world. Even the smallest of the children at the conference exuded a passion for life and a feeling not of condemnation, but of potential. They had potential to change lives through spreading awareness of PKS, and they most certainly changed our lives through the opportunity to meet and talk with them.

Blissful Innocence

22 Jun

After spending a few moments taking a mental break from editing, designing, and coordinating various new aspects of Be A Number, being a kid again was the greatest luxury imaginable. Through the window, it was easy to see a group of young children playing tag or holding lap races in the pool. Ah, to be able to run and squeal with excitement.

Kevin joined in on the fun the kids had at our latest photo shoot.


Recently, we had the chance to explain the Be A Number movement to a group of children in elementary school. It was amazing how quickly they picked up the important business model we’re spreading, but also how quickly they jumped on board with the idea.  Not only did they immediately understand our goal, to give a shirt and a dash of hope to as many children as we can, but they understood that the shirt the child receives is not just a shirt, it’s a promise. By giving these shirts to children around the world, we promise them that they will never be forgotten and they will always have a special place in our hearts just for them.

All too often, those of us in the “adult world” seem to forget just how easily children can pick up on new ideas and grasp the importance of them–sometimes even better than adults. Rather than looking at the world as a place that isn’t fair, a fact that most adults seem to believe just can’t be changed, children still enjoy the exhilaration of dreaming.

Perhaps we have a lesson to learn from them, then. The world can be a better place, if we allow ourselves to dream, to reach the limits of our potential, and constantly push the line between possible and impossible just a little farther back. Maybe we should take a moment to sit in the old refrigerator box and pretend it’s a rocket ship, or run through the grass with our arms outstretched, or even allow ourselves to be splashed by the side of the pool, even if we’re clad in clothes rather than swimming gear. Maybe then, we will be able to make this world a place where the phrase “life isn’t fair” will begin to be a thing of the past.

So start dreaming, keep believing in a better world, and keep helping out in your communities. While you’re at it, we’ll be doing the same. The world will be better for it, and as our founder, Kevin, likes to say, “let’s accomplish this together.”

Driving Forces

18 Jun

Lately, many people have been asking what keeps us motivated to help as many children as we can, especially when we encounter set-backs or challenges in doing so.

Kindergarten children who were among the first to receive Be A Number shirts

Sometimes, it can be difficult to come up with a tangible answer. My immediate reaction has always been to attempt to explain the look on the children’s faces at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota when we handed the first 250 to elementary children there.

I quickly realized that explaining such an experience was nearly impossible. Words always seem so inadequate in describing their smiles that reached each ear or the way their step seemed to have an extra bounce during recess that day.

“Live simply. Laugh often. Love generously.”

On the surface, these fragmented sentences appear sparse, at most, in their significance. However, these phrases,  displayed prominently on the wall, are a sort of reminder that not everything has to be complicated. By enjoying the smallest moments, we can reach thousands, even millions of people. The snapshot above represents just that: in the moment that photo was taken, we were laughing with children who were content to give us “bunny ears” and sit on the floor with us. We left them with the promise that we would never forget them, and they have truly gained their own place in our hearts.

ur Founder and President speaks to children at the school in Pine Ridge, SD

Our message has been spreading farther each day, and we’ve had an incredible response from the public to our mission. Recently, a blogger in Michigan wrote an entry in her blog about Be A Number and spread the word through her Twitter account. Within moments, other users re-tweeted the blog entry and we received an email from a young man in Arkansas expressing his affinity for Be A Number.

Combining the experiences we’ve enjoyed while passing out shirts to children here in the United States (and soon abroad!) and the amazing response we’ve received from people just like you, it becomes more difficult to imagine being unmotivated. Our goal is not to live lavishly ourselves, but to help others live more comfortably themselves.

How do we find motivation? We simply look at the world surrounding us and to the people we admire most. With any luck, we’ll be able to inspire others to change the world in their own way, starting with one number.

Working hard, or hardly working?

15 Jun

Yesterday was full of planning, organizing, and designing for us. Sometime between the dozens of phone calls, emails, and social networking updates, we were able to accomplish a lot. We are so very lucky to be doing something we love: helping people while having fun along the way. Sometimes, it hardly seems like work at all.

We’ve been brainstorming for a while now about a couple different videos we’ll be putting together soon. No, I can’t tell you the details (that takes all the fun out of unveiling them!), but I can tell you that as we wandered barefoot around Kevin’s backyard shooting our “example video” and used his dog, Dolly, as a stand-in actress, there were plenty of laughs to go around.  The neighbors were mowing the lawn next door and I couldn’t help but wonder what they must have been thinking as we laughed and filmed, sometimes at the same time. As it turns out, we should not look into quitting our day jobs to start an acting career–we had trouble remembering our lines, some of which were only a sentence long, and many clips ended in giggles.

We love to have fun during photo shoots!

While we certainly have plenty of fun, but we can’t wait to share all our hard work with all of you. As we constantly find new, exciting ways to help children all over the United States, and soon in other countries as well, we love nothing more than being able to share the news. Keep checking in for news and updates, there will be plenty coming soon!

In the meantime, whether you work behind a desk, from home, or travel for business, try to find a way to liven up the daily monotony of work. Whether it means posting a funny picture on the wall or sharing a good laugh with someone at work, we encourage you to enjoy what you do and incorporate giving into whatever you do. At the end of the day, it will be the most fulfilling part of your job.

No matter how many emails we have to send, how many phone calls we make, or how many times we send documents back to the drawing board for re-editing, all the time spent is worth it with just one smile from a child with whom we have been lucky enough to share our message of hope.

Many thanks to all of you who have helped to make this possible by showing your support!

Until next time, make today count. Be A Number.

The Simple Things

9 Jun

Today, the yellow sun shines brightly through the leaves of the trees, birds chirp happily from their nests, and butterfly wings flutter blissfully across deep blue skies. Today, the simplest things go unnoticed far too often. In a world of “high speed” this and “faster than ever” that, sometimes it seems the greatest luxury is to simply stop. To marvel at the wonders of how the world works is a pastime that has become far too rare.

It is an interesting paradox between inner and outer beauty in a world where the latest diet fads or who’s topping the Forbes income list is the focus of what seems to be the majority of youth when considering their futures. But what about the kids who are truly fighters–the ones who face each day with as much optimism as they can gather– who have faced a constant struggle and still find a way to smile?

Recently, we received news that we would be able to accompany several families with children with Pallister-Killian Syndrome (PKS) to New Jersey to learn more about what they face every day. PKS can present with deformities and mental delays, but the children it affects still find time to smile. Their beauty shines through in their ability to laugh and to overcome their daily struggles.

We are so excited to meet and talk to the children and their families at the conference, and, of course, hand them a Be A Number shirt of their own. We want to show them that they are so special to all of us and that they can change the world as well–with a simple smile and love for others.

Inspiration

2 Jun

Inspiration comes in many forms, a beautiful view, a close friend, or a even a good book, but often it is what we don’t see that has the most impact on us.

Recently, we had an opportunity to speak with middle school children at a school in Flint, Michigan about making a positive impact in their own worlds and how they could take small steps to make all the difference in their own lives and their community. The school was fairly typical, with kids’ artwork tacked to the hallway walls and posters next to the chalkboards with a few encouraging phrases. The kids were very attentive, and even came up with some business ideas of their own that would help those around them. Their response to the Be A Number movement was one of enthusiasm and wonder–they had so many questions and loved asking Kevin about playing football and where he gets his ideas. We were so impressed with how respectful and interested all the students were.

However, on the drive into and out of the area surrounding the school, we noticed many things that made us think about what many children don’t have. Thousands of families in the Flint area don’t know where their next meal will come from, shops were boarded up, and homes and businesses had bars on the windows to prevent robbery. What didn’t we see? A place for children to laugh and play and forget about the troubles of the world, a place for them to turn to when times were getting rough, a place to keep them off the streets.

As the rain spattered the windows of the pick-up truck we were driving, I couldn’t help but think about the kids without a roof over their heads, without a mother or father, and without a hot meal. These mental images are the driving force behind our deep desire to help as many children as possible. The children we reach will finally have material proof that we haven’t forgotten about them, though the world often overlooks them. The children in our own surrounding cities can be helped, and we are determined to reach as many as possible.

So as you go about your busy days, take a second to notice things that you usually wouldn’t, but also take the time to notice what you can’t see. It’s truly amazing how motivating it can be.