I want to tell you a story about a young guy I met while volunteering at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose. His name is Dontae. I won’t be able to tell his story up to this point as well as San Jose Mercury News’ Bruce Newman did in the excellent Holiday Wish Book series, so I’ll tell a story that hasn’t happened yet.
I can do that, you know.
Sometimes I know how a story ends before someone finishes telling it to me. Years ago, I thought everyone who thought print books would shrink to a tiny share of publishing (while digital books were taking off) were wrong - and I said so publicly. I had the ending right.
When Barnes & Noble proposed that it wanted to split off its e-book business I told the Associated Press it was a mistake. The company plowed ahead anyway. Three years, millions of dollars and a CEO resignation later, the company backed off from that blunder. Again, I had the ending right.
So with my credibility to predict the future solid, let me tell you a story.
Years from now, Dontae is going to be standing in front of a crowd. Giving a commencement address, accepting some kind of award, I’m not sure. Probably both.
And he’s going to be telling a story about his life. How he was born into foster care. How often he’d have to pack up and move to another family. How he burned down his own house to escape a violent stepfather when he was five. How he got involved with gangs. How he saw his friend get shot.
How he turned his life around.
How he got involved with Good Karma Bikes and their Traditional Age Youth program that helps foster kids aging out of the system. How he’s been doing since he stopped selling drugs and started being valuable to everyone he comes in contact with - in and out of the bike shop. How he's inspiring others.
When he’s giving this speech let’s not have him skip over the part where a community of cyclists from around the world pitched in to help him raise his family after his mother recently died - and get him where he’s going to be when he's standing behind that podium.
As a gift to a stranger if you don’t know him - or to use money to help a stranger as your gift to someone else - you can help Dontae with this GoFundMe page and through the Wish Book. It’s a gift he’ll remember - and you will too. And your gift to the person who isn't opening a physical item is that you'll be able to tell that person Dontae's story. Thanks for reading and thanks for riding.