The following post is an unsolicited endorsement of a dream being lived by my cousin, Mark Mulligan. Mark is one of the first cousins from my extended family of over fifty cousins who offered to become an angel in the outfield. He has always been a hero in my life. Please take a moment to read his story and click on the link at the end if you are moved to help Mark change the world. You can tell him his cousin, "the naked cave man," sent you....
GIFTS THAT CHANGE LIVES
by Mark Mulligan
It’s 1994. A small group of young children approach my door in Guaymas, Sonora, filthy and hungry and asking for money. They’re elated to receive a few cans of tuna, which was all I had to offer them.
The next day I play catch with them outside their shack, made of tar paper and trash, where several families reside in abject poverty. I learn the oldest boy, age 8 or so, is hoping to go to school someday, but having to support his brothers and sisters on the tips he earns bagging groceries makes that a mere dream.
Months later, an Americano from the nearby tourist town of San Carlos puts 50 bucks in my hand, to give to “those kids” he had heard about. I invite him to come with me and give the money to them in person.
The moment he sees their shack and the dirty faces of the kids who live in it, he’s overcome with shock. Before we even get out of the car, he tells me “Make it a hundred bucks….and make it every month”. Little did he know the effect that that one gift would have.
A friend in San Carlos matches the offer. Suddenly we’ve got enough for the oldest boy, Juan, to quit his job completely and go to school.
I get lucky and score a job singing my songs in one of the local bars in San Carlos, where other Americans who come to my shows are asking me questions about how Juan is doing with school. Some of them want to help. Twenty bucks here, fifty bucks there. Some visit the barrios with me. Some bring clothes, others simply spend time with the kids.
Fifteen years later….Juan graduates from college, and is standing in front of a group of reporters at a news conference, promoting a group called “Castaway Kids”, thanking them for the gift of opportunity back when he was 8. He tells the reporters his life would have never been the same.
He tells of how he’s worked alongside these Castaway Kids volunteers, who are now a tax-deductible charitable group entirely
funded by private donations, in building homes for disaster victims… in building a public park near the shack where he grew up….in providing emergency aid for the poorest of the poor.
While Juan is speaking, 40 other kids who want to follow in his footsteps are enrolling in the Castaway Kids’ scholarship program, known as “Adelante Estudiante” All are from families that can’t afford further education, and all have shown tremendous desire and commitment to continue with schooling. Should they keep their commitment to school attendance and grades, their lives will never be the same.
Nor will the lives of the Castaway Kids volunteers and donors, who have received a gift just as great. The chance to do something fulfilling and meaningful at a stage in their lives when others would simply play golf. The chance to work alongside neighbors from Guaymas, and live experiences that have changed their lives for the better. The opportunity to meet folks who may not own many possessions, but have so much of what really matters. The chance to put things into perspective in our own lives.
The gift: A few cans of tuna, a friend saying “make it a hundred bucks”, another friend matching it….who would have known back then all that would come to be? And, as 40 more kids dream of the future and embark on school scholarships, we still don’t know the answer to that question!
Past President & Founder, Castaway Kids Mexico A.C.
Castaway Kids Mexico A.C is funded entirely by private, tax-deductible donations to Castaway Kids Inc, an Arizona 501-C3
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