What does it take to be a hero? A question that I have asked myself many times in my life. More over, what could I do that might actually make a difference? Over the last weekend and after meeting with many socially defined “hero’s”, I have found that this question has an open ended answer. Hero’s come in all shapes, sizes and ages and one can only become a hero by acting heroically. But what does acting heroically mean? Does it have to be a grande gesture of life risking fate, or can it be a subtle movement that makes a ripple in society? Let me introduce you to a few of the amazing people I’ve met over the last weekend and I think your question will be answered.
Meet Travis Price. How many of you have heard of the “pink shirt day movement”? The pink shirt movement is a day when school children across the world wear a pink shirt to school in an effort to stop bullying. This amazing movement (a ripple in society) was started by Travis Price.
|Meeting Travis Price at the Hero Round Table conference.|
When Travis was in high school, a few years back, he had a moment that would forever change his fate. Travis found himself at a crossroad. This is the same crossroads where every other hero has found themselves standing at some point in time. Here he would have to make a decision.
It was the very first day of school and Travis was walking through the halls, as he would do everyday for the rest of the school year. Off to the side, Travis noticed a freshman boy crying. This poor boy had been teased all day long, he was ridiculed, called horrible and nasty names and painfully punished by a group of senior boys that he had never met before this day. They relentlessly attacked him. Why? Because he wore a pink polo shirt to school. He had done nothing to them, but apparently there was something about him that these older boys didn’t like. At this point Travis could have just walked by him and in moments time the ugly feelings that he felt while seeing this boy in distress would have passed. This definitely is the easier choice. No one wants to feel bad and nobody wants to get involved in a situation that could ultimately bring them into the same ill fate as the abused. However, Travis also had another choice, a choice to do something. That day, Travis chose to stop and make a difference and that choice is what has defined him as a hero. You can read more about what Travis did and join his movement on his website (http://pinkshirtday.ca/).
|Dr. Edith Edger & Dr. Phil Zimbardo at the Hero Conference. Photo via Mizzen Photography.|
Meet Dr. Edith Edger. Edith is an Auschwitz survivor. She has experienced in her lifetime one of the most traumatic events that any one person could experience, and she experienced it all before her 16th birthday. When Edith was just a young girl she was taken into a packed cattle trailer with her mother and sister and traveled two weeks to one of the concentration camp owned by Hitler. Many of the people on her trailer died before they even made it into the camp. Once they arrived at the camp they were placed into two lines, those who would become slaves and those who would be placed into a chamber and would immediately perish. Edith and her sister went into slavery, her mother went into the chamber. Edith suffered terribly in that camp, she was abused and starved, but she kept herself alive by always being curious as to what tomorrow would bring. She knew that there was more in life for her and her curiosity kept her alive. Edith was eventually liberated, along with her older sister. Today she gives back by counseling women who have been in abusive relationships, sex slavery and in situations of trauma. She teaches them that they can be more in life than just survivors but they can be women who have a future. Edith states that in no point in time has she ever said “Why me?” but she always said “What’s next?”. Edith became a hero by overcoming her past that was taken from her and using her future to give back. Read more about Edith on her website (dreee.com).
|Dan Pantaleo speaking at the Hero conference. Photo via Mizzen Photography.|
|Dave Rendall speaking at the Hero Round Table Conference, photo via Mizzen Photography.|
Meet Dave Rendall. Dave is a stand up comedian who helps people realize that what makes them different makes them awesome, and what makes them weak also makes them strong. When Dave was a child he was told that he was too loud, too hyper and that because of those trait that he would never amount to anything. If Dave had listened to those critics in his youth and conformed to the societal perception of perfection, then he would have never known his true potential. Dave now travels the world spreading the message that we don’t need to be like everyone else to be awesome, we just need to be ourselves and be proud of who we are. You can read more about Dave Rendall on his website (
|Matt Langdon and his daughter. Photo via Mizzen Photography.|
Teaching my children about heroism is important to me and it is also important to the creator of the Hero Round Table conference, Matt Langdon. Inspired by the fact that his daughter needed real life hero’s to admire, he wrote and published a book just for her called The Hero Field Guide (Volume 1). The book contains images and stories of some of the hero’s who spoke at this event as well as past hero’s who made a lasting impression with the choices they made in their lives.