It seems like everyone has a life-changing experience that drives them into action these days, but to be honest, that’s not how Be A Number came about. Kevin was (and still is) just a regular guy. At 21 years old, a football player, and a typical college kid, Kevin works for his dad’s pizza place on holiday breaks, studies from time to time, and makes appearances at social functions. Back in September 2009, he got to thinking. He was a senior, getting ready to look at the rest of his life, trouble was, he had no idea where he was headed. The phrase “he got to thinking” is pivotal– all this thinking led to an idea: Be A Number. All of a sudden, it was 4 am and the coffee pot was getting the workout of a lifetime. A few scribbles and some big ideas led to where we are now: traveling the world, spreading awareness of kids who need help and giving them hope through a t-shirt.
Over the next few days, Kevin told friends and family about his idea and got a lot of support. But what did they really think?
I, for one, had no idea who this Kevin Hershock guy was. I was perfectly content in my little world running my TOMS Shoes campus club and studying hard to complete two majors. One afternoon, I was in the student union at our school–Hillsdale College— talking with a friend, Tyler. He mentioned that his friend was thinking about starting a business similar to TOMS and that he had given him my name.
Being a psychology major, I figured I knew everything there was to know about typical college students. “Yeah,” I thought, “so you gave him my name, but I bet he’ll never actually contact me. People our age rarely do that, it seems.”
As it turned out, I was very wrong. I got back to my room later that evening and checked my email, expecting to find school announcements, meeting reminders from my sorority, and maybe a question or two from my TOMS committee. Mixed in with those were two emails, each about a paragraph long. Those two emails were what I can honestly describe as a turning point in my life.
After a brief introduction, he ended the email with:
“I was hoping that maybe we could meet up sometime and just talk about some things that I may be looking over or for you to give me some pointers if you could. If it is easier you can just email me. Thanks for everything!
In the second email, he apologized for never explaining the business idea in the first place and went into a quick description, followed by “ok, I hope you like my idea! -Kevin”
I remember meeting up with Kevin a few days later to tell him what I knew about TOMS, but I also remember thinking something along the lines of “you’ve got to be kidding me. This big football player who probably parties all weekend every weekend really wants to do this? There’s no way he’s serious.”
Months later, here I sit, writing a blog, editing the new website design, setting up video sets, scheduling speaking engagements, and making more phone calls and sending more emails than I want to attempt to count. To me, though, it’s more than just a great cause. It’s a constant learning experience from the moment I realized I was wrong to think he wasn’t serious just because he was a football player, to the moment I helped hand out the first 250 donated shirts to children in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Their smiles will be one of my favorite memories for the rest of my life.
So how does something like this start? Sometimes it’s just an idea, but one idea can change the world-I know it’s changed mine, and it changes the lives of children worldwide every single day.