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5 min read


Nothing seems all that hard anymore when you put it in perspective.


MCMA 2009


With his left hand on his knee, his eyes glaring straightforward and his right hand planted firmly into the carpet, the 6-year-old is about to go streaking.


He bolts down the stairs in his birthday suit and tears through the kitchen. I'm sure he had planned something to yell, as any good streaker would, but he struggled to pronounce any words while laughing as hard as he was.


Perfect timing, I thought, sitting at the kitchen table listening to my mom being interviewed by Saint Charles Magazine. Ironically, they would later give her a Dove Award and say she and my dad "served as enthusiastic, nurturing foster parents to three boys, whom they would later adopt."


Meet Brandon Houska. Here's a kid who isn't afraid to be bold. But, more importantly, here's a kid who knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity.


When he was two weeks old, he was taken from his birth mother. He wasn't even supposed to be born yet, being one month premature. Birth Mom had problems with drugs, alcohol and partying, and her addiction was such a priority she would not stop her lifestyle for anything. Not even pregnancy, and certainly not the birth of her first child.


So she did him the biggest favor she would ever do. She gave her baby to the Family Support Division, explaining that the way her life affected his was unfair.


That's where we came in.


I was 12 years old and looking at the smallest baby I had ever seen. I was staring at this child, not sure what to think, but somehow positive that we would end up spending a lot of time together.


It's impossible for Brandon to remember the day he was removed from his toxic home, and not remembering where he came from is actually very fortunate for him. It's a lot harder to switch parents if you've known each other for a while.


Meet Michael and Ian Houska. Two biological brothers, one who didn't have the same luxury as Brandon and had to make a transition to foster care after 11 years in a different world. While their father was serving the beginning of his prison sentence for child abuse, they needed a place to stay.


That's where we came in.


As an 11 year old, change is hard. When I was 11, I would flip out if my mom didn't cut my peanut butter sandwich into triangles. But here's another kid who I could learn a thing or two about adversity from, I thought.


Over the next few years I watched an 11 year old with no friends, terrible grades and not a single good habit turn into a varsity high school soccer player and an honor roll student. To this day I don't know how the hell he did that.


I feel like I'm really making progress if I wake up before noon and go to a class all in the same day. But this kid, my brother, just watched his dad get hauled off to jail for the abuse his old man inflicted on him, went through an adoption to become a part of a new family. He did it all without a single complaint, but rather with a million thank yous.


I also watched a shockingly small baby turn into a kid who is in the top 1 percent for both height and weight. I watched the same kid go from a student who came home in some kind of trouble nine out of 10 school days turn into a quiet, smart kid with a teacher that just couldn't say enough good things about him.


If these kids can pull off massive turnarounds before they reach their teens, then why can't I study for an extra hour each week? Why can't Michael Vick stop killing dogs? Why can't you stop smoking? Why can't MU basketball players stop getting arrested?


Nothing seems all that hard anymore when you put it in perspective.

I practice permission marketing, the subtle art of never sending annoying bullshit. This way we can stick to the art.
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