Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alive Fest

We haven't forgotten you guys. Here's an update! Alive Fest was amazing! For those of you that don't know what Alive Fest is, it was a Alive Campaign Benefit concert to help us raise money for the documentary that is scheduled to be released Spring 2010. We were also able to share the message of hope, fighting the battle of depression. We had several local El Paso Bands play. But the main event was Building 429. Here's some videos from the event.

P.S. thanks sis for your hard work in making the concert happen and changing people's lives..good luck in college.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Break in Indiana

Team Okinawa (Justin and Andi) has just gotten back from Indiana, where they spent 3 days filming a man named Ed, a father who lost his son to suicide. This is their story:

The story in how we found Ed is as much as an important feature as was his story. We discovered him about two weeks ago. Ed, sent us an email asking for promotion of his son's music. His son, Ben , before taking his life, was a musician. Ben left behind notes: Aflats, Bflats, and sharps, his life summed up in his poetry. Ed's dream is to have Ben's music to become mass produced and act as preventive tool to those thinking about taking their lives. His story touched us.

Currently Andi has been working non-stop on the documentary we hope to have out next year. Destination Anchorage: A Live Film (Working Title). After looking at the film Andi knew he was missing something. He was missing the first hand stories of the victims of suicide. It turns out some of the true victims are the one's left behind. So when we heard Ed's story we knew this was not an accident.

We scrounged up a few hundred dollars and flew down to Indiana to meet with Ed. As Andi and I arrived in Indiana we found Ed waiting for us, excited that we came. He shed a few tears, knowing that this was another path towards accomplishing his dream. We felt humbled by his enthusiasm. We learned quickly that Ed was perhaps the most charismatic talker we had ever met. After entering his car for less then 30 min, he began telling us his life story. Telling us things that we weren't prepared for. The weight of this began to fall on our shoulders immediately. Here we are talking to a loving father about his son's death. I do not think this is something you can ever get used to.

We also learned that Ed has been working tirelessly trying to get his son's record produced. Ed is well connected. He knows celebrities of all walks of life, he has also handed each of them his son's CD hoping for it to grab somebodies attention. Although they all are deeply moved by the story none of them have contacted Ed about the CD. Ed even went as far as to appear on the game showDon't Forget the Lyrics with Wayne Brady. Where he missed a 200,000 dollar question that could have funded the musical endeavor. He had almost given up, until of course we contacted him. To him, in tears, we were re-birthing his dream.

We were introduced to the IU campus in Bloomington. Ed and his fiance own a restaurant, Buffa Louies, where they serve some of the best wings this side of the Midwest. The first night they had a concert at their restaurant in response to our arrival. There, we met Ben's friends and band. We told them our story and about the bike trip we accomplished last year. We heard a great response from our message, many of the people there were glad that we came. Yet, we still felt unworthy, as they began to share their hearts with us.

The three days of filming are probably some of the most emotional days of my life. Those that commit suicide think that they are ending their pain but in reality they are only transferring all that pain a 100 times to all of the people around them. It was hard on Andi and I.

The last day we drove 3 and a half hours to Ben's grave site. You can tell it was hard on the father. Along the drive Andi filmed Ed telling the whole story, from the soccer games, to the high school years, and to the final days of Ben's life. Until we reached the final climax, his son's grave. We were all moved.

We left Indiana with a new sense of mission. Ed was gracious enough to share his unbelievable story with us. This burden is now on our shoulders. The Alive Campaign has new legs.

For those that are interested in listening to a couple of tracks from Ben and his sister Hayley please visit these links:

Ben's Music

Hayley's Music

"Your Choice" and "Big Man" will be some of the song in the soundtrack of the upcoming film Destination Anchorage: A Live Film (Working Title). Let us know what you think. Peace.

-Justin Brown

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back and Running

So I've missed all of you. Just a recap: we all are doing well, we've been super busy with school. Alyson is working as a Senior Community Leader at Brook Residential Hall, Kyle is working hard on earning his degree, Nathan is getting done with interviews for job prospects, Andi is rocking it in New York through an internship with the Baylor Film Network, and I'm working on getting into Law School. We're all just trying to get through these final semesters.

It was really weird being back from the bike trip. I still sometimes look at the road and think about getting back on my bike and just taking off. Yes I still ride my bike, old faithful has not let me down, who would have ever thought I'd have such feelings for an inanimate object. But it is truly my pride and joy. I can't say that for the rest of the team. Nathan and Kyle have been loving the feeling of returning to their old habits. Kyle discovered 97 cent Betty Crocker Cakes at the super market, he can't believe he never thought of those before (I come back to the apartment to see yet another cake in the oven). Andi has been in New York and was even able to meet up with a lady that we met on the road. They had lunch and everything. Andi has been having a blast in New York, he's been learning a lot.

Since we've been back we been loaded with tons of questions on how the trip was, what was our favorite part, what was our favorite city, did anyone get hurt, and we've had to answer them a million times. But we are particular happy for all the things we learned from the trip and all the people we met. We are very thankful. I was talking to Alyson the other day and she said how weird it felt not being in a new place everyday, but how she was happy to be stationary for a while. I don't know if I fully agree with her, I think I find myself in a new place everyday just not in the location sense.

But now we are getting finished with our 2nd to last semester of College and after working on the Alive Campaign behind the scenes, I thought to let you in on what we are doing. It turns out that Andi is still working on the Documentary and that is our biggest concern as of now. We got some great footage and we're putting it together. It looks really good. Keep checking the blog as more information reaches me.

Peace- Justin Brown

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

We made it! We're home! As we crossed the Texas line today we couldn't have been more excited and then as we saw the Green and Gold from the Baylor tower, the feeling of completion started to resonate. This has to be one of the happiest days of our summer.

For the past 3 and a half days we have been driving non-stop crossing through Alaska, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and finally Texas. It was an adventure in its own right, deciding that we were not going to stop anywhere, for showers or for beds until we made it home. There was a little bit of pride in making this kind of trip. I mean people take these kinds of trip by themselves let alone after you have biked across the country, but we figured if we can bike across the country and be okay we can stay in a van for 3 days and be even better. Unfortunately the drive was not as exciting as it sounds. We were tired in the "my body really really wants to exercise" sort of way...there something about being in a van for 3 days straight that takes a toll on the body, especially when all your eating is fast food and gas station beef jerky. All the hard work we've done to make our bodies in biking shape felt like it was deteriorating. Our stomachs felt awful, our legs wanted to run, our muscles wanted to sleep, and our bodies wanted a shower.

We each took our own driving shifts. Each consisting of 5 hours. The night shift was the worst, the scary thing about riding through the night, especially through the Yukon, was the animals. It was common to see wolves, bears, deers, and yes..buffalo. The greatest thing about the night shift was when it ended, and then the sun rose...I enjoyed seeing the sun rise every morning, but then after that ray of sunshine (pun intended) the days just dragged on, and sleep in the most miniscule amount was a blessing. I just jumped in the back seat and rested my head even though afterwards my spine was in knots. And the knots didn't go away. Our heads pounded from the lack of sleep but we pushed through.

The final run even though it was in a car showed how much we've grown as friends. We laughed even though the van smelled of trash and the floor was littered with candy wrappers. We've been through the bugs and the dirt while riding bikes and in a scary way I think we have grown used to being uncomfortable. As Baylor came into view we began giving High-5s, shouts of joy, and singing to cheesy music. We made fools of ourselves, honking our way into town. The poor van is just as much a team member as we are, and it was invited to join in in the excitement. According to Nathan's motto "If you take care of your machines your machines will take care of you," and the van has truly taken care of us.

When we arrived the first thing we noticed was the Texas heat. It was funny, I actually missed the unbearably sticky summer air. We were welcomed by Nathan's parents and family, as well as Susan from the Baylor counseling services, and Dub Oliver from Student Life, whom we all hugged and who basked in our smelly selves. We are so happy. There is no place like home.

-Justin Brown

Another note from Alyson:
On behalf of the team, after talking and hanging out this evening in Nate's apartment, we want to say thank you to everyone that has supported us, and helped make this trip possible. The bike trip was for our friend whom sparked this adventure, the people on our facebook group, our families, our friends, our sponsors: Ford Direct, everyone in Itasca, staff, students, and administrators at Baylor, and everyone else who has been with us. The list is long, and every day it grows. We are so blessed to have such loving and selfless people in our lives.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Coming Home!!!

Our adventure is coming to an end, tomorrow we will be heading home. We're getting all the last minute preparation made for the trip back. Getting an oil change, throwing away the trash that has accumulated over that past 70 plus days (there is a lot of it), and creating a makeshift bed so that we can sleep while the van is pulling forward. I hate to disappoint all of you but we're not going to be biking back! This is what we like to call a race to the finish. We're having to get home (Baylor University) by August 6th. So we are going to be driving non-stop (with a couple of breaks in between) to get home in time.

We're going to be waking up at 4:30 am and driving till 8pm just about everyday for 5 days. We're each going to take shifts to help the 15 hours a day go a lot smoother and safer.

It will feel good being on the road again even though its going to zip by. The drive back will be like rewinding a video tape. We will pass through the same terrain and experience the same weather, maybe by going through all of it, it will help all of us truly see the magnitude of our accomplishment.

I'm looking at my pictures again. I've been looking at all the pictures, strolling down memory lane. They are all so beautiful. What's really strange is I can't believe I was there. Its like somebody photoshopped my picture putting me behind those wonderful backgrounds. Time flew by so fast. Now it is only a memory, a picture, but it is a part of me. I was there. I saw the wonders of all creation, I experienced the desert heat, the ocean breeze, and the pine smells, I lived through all of it, and we made it.

I'm excited about tomorrow, getting back on the road, I think Willie Nelson summed my feelings best:

On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been
Seein' things that I may never see again,
And I can't wait to get on the road again.

-Justin Brown

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Day 77: Anchorage, AK (rest day)

Today we got to sleep in, and woke up just in time to clean up and go out on the town. Once again, Andi is spending time with his folks. We hope they're having fun.

Nate, Justin, and I went to lunch and then hit up the Alaska Native Heritage Center. It was interesting to hear about all the history and see some native dances and artwork. We had fun taking a tour around the lake, seeing totem poles, huge whale bones, and going inside some huts.

After that, we went to dinner at Humpy's Grill. They had really good Halibut and we met a pilot for UPS who told us about his recent 12-day job that went to places all over the world, including Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, Anchorage (of course) and Kentucky. He told us, "You absolutely must travel. It's one of the best things you can do."

Then we walked around downtown. The shops and activities are pretty neat, and the Alaska memorabilia is one-of-a-kind. I refrained from buying a "Alaska: where size matters" t-shirt though. :)

The day was nice and relaxing, and Nate and I are going to watch some more "Friday Night Lights" tonight. Tomorrow is our prep day before we leave early on Friday morning. We'll be cleaning out the van, getting an oil change, and doing a lot of other necessary things... It's worth it. I can't wait to be back in Texas.


Day 76: Anchorage, AK (rest day)

We're all a bit tired today. The team has been working a bit to spread the news of our arrival. After lunch, we headed back to The University of Alaska Anchorage to be present for a welcoming ceremony. And other then we being the honored guests, the Lt. Governor showed up and presented us with gifts. He introduced himself and spoke of the tragedies of Alaska being a state where suicide is common, and that there needs to be more young people standing up for the cause. We felt humbled. Alyson said, "I think the trip is starting to sink in," keeping the tears from rolling down her face. I'm not at the point of fully realizing the impact of the trip but I know what she means. Meeting all these people, has put some added value to what we've accomplished.

We toured some more areas in Anchorage, and found ourselves in a theatre, where a man gave a old fashioned story telling of the Alaska legends. As he began to tell of the Gold Rush, that took place about 100 years ago, we felt a kindred to the story. We have traveled the same trails of the adventurers searching for gold. Because like them we were on an adventure searching for riches, not the material kind, but we were searching for the riches that can't be bought or sold, we were searching for meaning.

Nathan is saying "Goodbye" to his parents right now. They are leaving on a plane tomorrow morning leaving us on our own again. Seeing them was like a touch of reality, reminding us that this trip has to end, but now that they're gone in the back of my mind I swear I feel like I'm going to ride again tomorrow. I guess it has become a habit. But this trip has to end. Being with Nathan's parents also reminded me that I have parents awaiting me at home. I can't wait to see them.

p.s. Moose are everywhere!!

-Justin Brown