From time to time, I get a message from someone who has been in one of my audiences that really reminds me why this message is so needed. These messages powerfully remind me that this message of empowerment that I give all across this country really does make a difference. Here recently, I got two in one day.
I recently spoke at the University of Kentucky to all the new members of the fraternity and sorority community. To encourage engagement and participation, I have live texting during my keynote presentation. Well, the next day I looked at my iPad and saw that a woman in the audience from the night before had sent me a text. It read:
"I'm Sharon from the University of Kentucky. I just got home and I just led two girls from getting raped. Your story really hit home to me cause I was molested when I was little. I'm looking out for anyone who needs me now. Thanks!"
Then, on the very same day, I received this Facebook message from a student who came to hear me speak last spring...
Dear Mr. Dilbeck:
I hope all is going well with your program and I hope to speak with you soon. To be honest, tonight was my best night as a member of my fraternity and I owe a lot of this joy to you.
I was removed as assistant pledge master for halting an all night event (clearly hazing). Of course I was not too happy, but I know that I was removed simply for having values.
Tonight, our pledges were assigned yet another rock paint (they paint our logo on a rock, then the brothers come and scream at them). This is a chapter tradition. I drove by and put myself in their shoes and remembered how hazing made me feel last year. So, I did what no brother has ever done and got out and helped them. I have never had so much fun. Obviously, doesn't seem like a big deal, but an action.
For the first time, pledges felt OK to address their woes to an active member (me). I was told, "I want to do exactly what you did tonight to the next pledge class." I was hugged too many times!
Of course, the active brothers weren't too happy. I got a message from the pledge master telling me I am a cancer to this fraternity and that I am a "gross piece of shit and I hate you." Brotherhood huh? We have chapter tomorrow, and I don't want to even think about what's gonna happen.
To be honest, I don't know if this would have happened if I hadn't met you. I do not know the fate of my future in my fraternity but I know that I intervened when wrong was being done and resisted the urge to be a bystander. You, as one single individual, have not only empowered me to stand up for what is right, but 19 other students who now know more about brotherhood than anyone in my fraternity.
Please keep doing what you are doing and, again, thank you so much. What you do is helping."
So, needless to say, I was thrilled and so inspired to get these messages. And, I am clear there are others out there who are making a huge difference.
These two students — and so many others — really are everyday heroes.