On the morning of August 31st 2014, I woke up to what would be a life changing event. I was having a stroke. I found the cause was a hole in my heart, which required an operation five months later. Surviving these medical difficulties caused me to view this as my second chance at life. I was not prepared to let this get me down. I was one of the lucky ones.
A year later on Sept. 5, I married Lisa and in November we visited the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon. While there, we took a tour with Outback Adventures, which we loved.
A year later, we returned to the Dominican Republic and once again chose to take a tour with Outback Adventure. I was very touched by the children we visited on the tour, who seemed so happy even though they appeared to have very little. I was moved by this experience and thought deeply about the concept of gratitude. I had so much to be grateful for, and understood you don’t have to have everything you want to be happy.
When I returned to the UK, I realized we would be able to go back to the Dominican Republic in 2017. I spoke with the tour company we were using and explained this trip was about giving back and I wanted to Pack for a Purpose and take supplies for the projects supported by Outback Adventures.
The tour company (TUI) generously allowed me an additional 40 kilos of weight to take even more supplies. On May 22nd, we headed to Manchester airport, armed with 38kg of school equipment, included books, pencils, paper, pens, calculators, 4 first aid kits, and a whole lot more, and 2 baseball bats, I knew the kids liked baseball.
May 31st was one of the most special days of my life. We arrived at the school, were greeted at the gate and led into the school. Our guide, Victor, took the suitcase in for us. When we unloaded the suitcase, even the teacher had a tear.
Then I stood at the front of the class, one last time and looked out at those children, I have never felt so humbled, and yet I was incredibly proud, and so happy. In my own way, I had been able to give something back, to say thank you for all the support I have had since my stroke. That meant the world to me. Most importantly, we were able to help those children. It may not have been a lot, compared to what we have, but if we can all give, then it will make a difference to the lives and hopes of those young children.
I urge anyone who goes on an Outback Adventure to Pack for a Purpose. It doesn’t matter how big or small an amount you take. To those children it means so much.