The Power of Story: My Birthday Fundraiser with Pencils of Promise

The Power of Story: My Birthday Fundraiser with Pencils of Promise

When I was a senior in college I read a book that changed my life, The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change.

It was about a clean cut dude from Greenwich, CT who landed his 6-figure dream job in finance after he graduated, but after some time grew restless, even with the sweet paycheck.

Don’t worry, a lot more to the story…

After traveling abroad the author had gained a new perspective that inspired him to do something greater with his life — something that positively impacted others. I instantly could relate to the author because as he put it, he was born into the lottery of life and had done nothing to deserve the good fortune he enjoyed…

I was born into the lottery of life with a winning ticket—a loving family, great education: good health. But what had I done to deserve any of it? Why was I born into those blessings when so many others were born into suffering? Why was I born into a booming city when others are born into villages without electricity or water in war-torn nations? I was reluctant to admit it, but I felt that I owed something to those who were less fortunate, because in my mind I had never done anything to can the good fortune I enjoyed.

After wrestling with the decision for some time, the author, Adam Braun, left his cushy finance job in 2008 and launched Pencils of Promise with a $25 bank deposit…

At the time of reading the book (2014) Adam and PoP had developed more than 200 schools for children in developing countries, just six years later.

I was so moved by Adam’s story. I finished the book and immediately contacted PoP to see how I could get involved with this incredible organization.

I even wrote a few blogs about the book which Adam shared out with his massive network — a super cool experience for a punk ass college blogger like myself.

Want to digest the #PoPbook in 15 quotes? @differenthunger just posted his favorite 15 quotes –
— Adam Braun (@AdamBraun) July 21, 2014

Shortly after getting in touch with Adam and his team, I launched my first birthday fundraiser for my 23rd birthday in 2014. I was able to raise nearly $3,000 thanks to the support of awesome family and friends. It was such a great experience that I decided to do the same thing again for my 24th birthday and raised more than $2,000.

And earlier this month, for the third year in a row, I launched my 25th birthday fundraiser and am stoked to announce that we have already hit the $1,000 mark.

Since I first read The Power of a Pencil, PoP has grown into an even more impressive organization having now developed nearly 400 schools for deserving children, impacting more than 35,000 children in the process and raising millions to empower children through education.

So why am I telling you all this?

I want you to understand just how powerful your story can truly be…

I got involved with Pencils of Promise and have run fundraisers the last three years because Adam Braun’s story was so powerful. It was one that  I could relate to.

I could relate to his comfortable, seemingly perfect upbringing.

I could relate to having won ‘the lottery of life’.

I could relate to the obligation he felt to give back and impact others.

I could relate to the struggles and the pressures he faced as a college student trying to figure out WTF to do with his life and beyond.

When I read his book it didn’t feel like a New York Times bestselling author was keynoting a speech to me and a bunch of other lost twenty somethings. It simply felt like a friend was telling me a story.

I read the amazing things that Adam accomplished by pursuing the things that mattered most to him, like funding the development of 200+ schools and positively impacting the lives of his friends, co-workers and beyond. I related to this guy and saw the amazing things he accomplished, and thought to myself: why not me? Could I achieve something like this, too?

Before I read Adam Braun’s book, he and I were total strangers. However after finishing that book, he changed my life. He was an inspiration to me and his story inspired me to create a story of my own, one that I was proud to tell others.

Regardless of where you are right now, every minute that passes is an opportunity to create a story for yourself…

Make your life a story worth telling. You only get one shot at this existence, and one day when you’re gone the most important thing you’ll leave behind is the legacy of the life you lived. Make sure you make it a story you’re proud to have others tell.

Click here to donate to my 25th birthday fundraiser with Pencils of Promise.

Huge thank you to Adam Braun for changing my life and to Pencils of Promise for making this world a better place.