1st BLOG - hugsbybrent.com - changing lives - 5/24/14

I am so thankful for all the amazing moments that I have been apart of and look forward to even more amazing moments (if that is possible). My book/speaking presentations have been very successful these last two years and I am looking forward to continued opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others! I will try and update this BLOG on Sunday nights, so a new BLOG will be here every Monday morning (and on occasion throughout the week). On facebook I do not share the private negative messages I receive or the frustrating aspects of what I am trying to do in this world (and some do not 'get it'). When talking about negative messages or aspects of my program I will never use "true" names, but will be honest with the positive and negative.

I want to share how my program book / speaking program works. I have never "cold called" for a presentation. All my programs have been because word of mouth, where someone has seen or heard about my impact and then has contacted me, saying, that they want my presentation (for a variety of reasons). I do all my own scheduling, preparations and marketing in regards to my speaking presentations (www.hugsbybrent.com ... helping students against adversity). I am excited that I have created this website to support my programs and hopefully create more support for "team hugs." Just to be clear "hugs" stands for Helping stUdents aGainst adverSity. Below is a story that I wrote on facebook recently that had a positive response, so I wanted to share it here. I wanted my first blog to be positive. There will be shared negative feedback that I receive (I have never received negative feedback from my presentations), I want to be balanced and I do receive some negativity. I am truly thankful for all the support because without it there would be no "hugsbybrent" and students would not be influenced by my life's journey, of overcoming serious adversity to make dreams come true. I am proud to share that I have never gad a negative response from students, teachers, schools, districts or any other place where I have presented. I take what I do serious because the impact created is serious. I have received a letter that my books and time were the reason one girl did not take her life! I have had students tell me they realize they are bullies, but will no longer choose to be that way. You can see some of the students feed back on the home page and also on the "student letters" link. I am proud of 100% positive reviews.

Below is an amazing story that I was recently a part of at Newcomb Academy in Long Beach, where they had me come present my book/school assemblies. Rad!

"Here is the "tear jerker" story that I was hinting at last couple of days. I finally have time to think about how to describe it. I hope that you read through this and feel my tears rolling down my cheek in font of 50 ish elementary students. Last Friday I presented my book/speaking assembly 5 times and 1 lunch program (where I bring my sport's wheelchair out to the playground and let the students push in it, to get tangible experience). The day started out hot/muggy with no air conditioning in the packed auditorium. I am sweating on stage and students are sweating in their seats ... but still on point and not making a peep. All teachers and staff were amazed at their "perfect" behavior. During the q and a part of my program I received an original question (which after over 150,000 students is not easy). The 4th grade girl asked me, "Mr. poppen what is your goal today?" This caught me off guard, but was awesome. Ok, after third assembly it is lunch time, so I take my tennis wheelchair out to the hot playground because students are lining up and asking where am I? I was stuck in auditorium where students snuck in and brought "things" in for me to sign and I loved it. The students are having a blast pushing my tennis chair on playground and like always the line is getting bigger and bigger, with more students. Then the special ed teacher comes over and asks me if her student (who has severe cp) can cut to the front and try my tennis chair? I of course "take care of my own" ... so he struggles with his walker to come over and we get him sitting in my tennis chair and he is smiling ear to ear. Due to his "cp" hands he is having a hard time pushing, but I let him struggle a bit and he starts to figure it out .... and when he turns my tennis chair around ALL THE STUDENTS waiting in the heat and not getting a turn ... started clapping slowly getting faster until all the surrounding students were clapping making this disabled student feel "special" and like he was just another student ... his smile described what words could never do. That moment was worth getting up at 2am and driving directly to school and doing my assemblies. As these students continued to cheer and that disabled student's smile got bigger a few tears dribbled down my cheek. These students were not asked to cheer or led by me or another adult .... it was a moment of honest love and support that was special! Staff came up to me put their arm around me and said, "Mr. poppen without you here today and your programs this moment doesn't happen, thanks for loving our students." Hope this long post was worth the read ... it was worth the drive.

I am also going to share a letter (below) that a 5th girl handed me on her own, telling me she has a hard time talking.

"Mr. Poppen you really made my day today. I have dreams and hopes any many people say that I can't do anything, but thanks to you I think that I can do my best and become the greatest I can be. Thank you for coming to my school and by the way I'd love to read your autobiography. Katherine."

I love being trusted to create "moments!" Sweet dreams y'all. thanks for supporting me, so I can do what I do best.

HUGS: Brent