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

6 comments:

Ed Schwartzman said...

Thank you to Andi & Justin for asking me to be part of their incredible journey.

I know my son Ben would support this project.

Much love,

Ed Schwartzman

(219) 210-1479

Melis said...

so incredibly moved by what you guys have done.. and thankful for other young people who share a heart for this cause.. would love to team up with you guys on something some day :)

and Ed, I will keep you and your family in my prayers..

Christina Raye said...

"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."

I couldn't have said that better myself. Suicide doesn't end pain.

My heart goes out to Ed and his family. I know how painful it is to lose someone to suicide.

Dee Dee said...

Hi, guys,
I am so glad to find this update on the next stage in your efforts to raise awareness and for prevention of suicide.

I became a supported after discovering your campaign on facebook in November 2007. My son Drew had taken his life March 24, 2007. He was 21 years old, and a student at LSU. The Survivors of Suicide group is beginning plans for a walk to raise awareness and funds next spring, and will be working with LSU student groups on this effort. It would be wonderful to include you in some way.

I followed your journey early on, and even considered meeting you in Alaska! I was thankful to be able to help. My family's donation in December 2007 was actually Drew's Christmas gift. It seems so appropriate that as the second anniversary of Drew's death approaches, I am able to reconnect with you wonderful people.

Debora (Dee Dee) Wilbert

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