Dwight Owens Foundation
In A Nutshell:
Dwight Owens was hit by a drunk driver in a car accident leading to paralysis, and currently uses a wheelchair for transportation. After years of rehabilitation, Dwight has become an inspirational speaker and started a campaign called “Before you Drink, Think Dwight” and tours the southeast United States talking to a variety of groups about drunk driving and spinal cord injury.
Why Dwight Rocks:
- Dwight won the 2010 National Americorps Spirit of Service Award. The award is the highest possible honor that can bestowed on an Americorps member. There were 325 nominees out of 15,000 Americorps Members Nationwide!
- He recently worked for L.I.F.E of Mississippi (Living Independence For Everyone), counseling people with disabilities and helping them live independent lives.
- Dwight has also worked for the Mississippi Attorney General’s Crime Victim’s campaign, and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
I received a last-minute message from my original Atlanta non-profit (SOS Children’s Villages) stating they had to re-schedule an event I was supposed to work, therefore I pulled out the WILDCARD (I love all CAPS and colors!). WILDCARD usually means taking it to the streets with in-your-face volunteerism…so I rented some wheels for the day, not a convertible but a wheelchair.
My Goal: sit (in a wheelchair) in the busiest spot in downtown Atlanta promoting Dwight Owens…he needs to hit hotlanta for speeches!
The morning involved lots of arts and crafts (I have trouble tracing my hand). First, I bought a champagne balloon and taped the following sign: Is this YOUR type of a post-prom party? Then, I used my science fair skills to create a tri-fold board decked-out about Dwight and 50Give. Finally, I got into costume with my “Before you Drink, Think Dwight” t-shirt, and off to the Hard Rock Cafe corner on Peachtree Street.
Like my previous experience when I spent a whole day in a wheelchair, many people just throw on their horse blinders, even got the shout-out asking “where my hoes at?”…I got a good laugh and he made a good point, needed some assistance getting attention…maybe next time I will recruit an alligator mascot eating peaches perched on a toilet.
I did connect with high school kids, Atlanta street ambassadors, and received many ‘right-ons’ – keep on doing good. If I inspired one person then it was a success, if you are reading this then it was a success…I am usually about numbers but I am taking a different approach lately and BELIEVE the tour is making an itty bitty difference – Little Rock, Arkansas I volunteered at an animal shelter, was put on TV promoting dogs who have lived there for over 4 years…next day an ‘oldie’ dog was adopted, one that was beaten by a shovel…maybe 50Give inspired, keeps me going.
The story of Dwight Owens is beyond inspirational…you need to see it in bullets to fully grasp:
- Drunk driver ran a red light at 120 mph hitting Dwight’s car.
- Dwight was driving to his FIRST day of his dream job to teach and be a football coach at age 23.
- Paramedics were giving up on the spot, although one emergency worker (friend from Dwight’s high school) kept working on his body and brought him back to life.
- The spot of the accident is the SAME location where his father was shot dead (Dwight was actually there in the last moments before his father passed).
- The drunk driver Herman Posey had zero remorse, and Dwight advocated and successfully REDUCED the sentence of Herman…Dwight wanted to give Herman another shot at experiencing a good life.
Dwight is busy traveling because ‘Prom Season’ is in full-swing and his presence will save lives/prevent senseless injuries. I wish everybody could meet Dwight because he makes you smile, he gives you the ‘spotlight’…I think he knows everybody has their story and he is more concerned about the present – he literally keeps rolling to educate the dangers of drunk driving and to empower those living a life with a disability.
My Atlanta hosts were fantastic and it was like being home in Maryland – my host Kyle was my brother’s best friend growing up and he is a body double for Will Smith;) His kind wife Tina set-up a super chill room and I was luckily enough to play catch with their twin boys. Kyle is a huge fan of the tour and sent a relevant article about former Georgia Tech star athlete Linda Lisska who killed a 24 year-old man while driving drunk, and is now touring (on probation) speaking to groups about her mistake.
At age 16, I made a mistake and hit a UPS head-on, and I am reminded of it every day with a deviated septum that clogs my nose. I can’t explain why I was able to walk away…luck, my car, God? Dwight attributes his accident and recovery to God and miracles…50Give is Dwight, not God or a miracle, but a VOICE driving positive change. You can be Dwight too, it will make you proud. If something ain’t right, not driven from your ego…but comes deep from your intuition/soul/god, a place where you can’t describe, then please do something – “Think Dwight, And Be The Positive Change.”
The journal entry is dedicated to Dwight Owens, LIFE of Mississippi, and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.
Website (PDF history of Dwight):
PayPal Online (title header: firstname.lastname@example.org)
OR Check via Mail:
101 New Hopewell Church Rd
Taylorsville, MS 39168
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi