Luminocity

Dreaming Big with Dream Chasers

July 30, 2019 Andy Krafft
Luminocity
Dreaming Big with Dream Chasers
Chapters
Luminocity
Dreaming Big with Dream Chasers
Jul 30, 2019
Andy Krafft

Stephen Vaughn is the Founder and Executive Director of Charlotte Based Non-Profit Dream Chasers (formerly known as Xcel 2 Fitness). Dream Chasers is an after-school activity based program that uses functional fitness to teach kids about overcoming obstacles, facing fears, working as a team, and chasing dreams.

Support Dream Chasers here: https://dreamchasers.org/ 

Show Notes Transcript

Stephen Vaughn is the Founder and Executive Director of Charlotte Based Non-Profit Dream Chasers (formerly known as Xcel 2 Fitness). Dream Chasers is an after-school activity based program that uses functional fitness to teach kids about overcoming obstacles, facing fears, working as a team, and chasing dreams.

Support Dream Chasers here: https://dreamchasers.org/ 

Speaker 1:

It's not easy to chase a dream. Fear, obstacles and failure are all real, but so are my passion, my team and my grit and my passion is greater. My team is greater and my grit is greater. I'm a dream chaser.

Speaker 2:

I chase greatness. Welcome to luminosity where we aluminate the needs in our cities. The organization's committed to serving those needs and the people whose lives had been changed by the generosity of others. My guest today is Stephen Vaughn. Stephen is the founder and Executive Director of Charlotte based nonprofit dream chasers, formerly known as Xcel to fitness. Dream chasers is an afterschool activity based program that uses functional fitness to teach kids about overcoming their obstacles, facing their fears, working as a team and chasing their dreams. He developed this philosophy from some of his own experiences. His story is inspiring, his passion is contagious, and I really enjoyed my conversation with him and I hope you do as well. Enjoy

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] .

Speaker 1:

You're from here, right ? Yeah. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Okay . Yeah. I mean, North Carolina is a cool place. Yeah. I love this. I mean, the summer he is, it's brutal. It is brutal. It's , I just got back from Colorado with a family last week and it was like, so like just, Oh, I bet a or it was like, it's so fresh. Oh, I mean , we walked regularly , like , yeah , whatever . We're like, oh yeah, that's horrible. There's something rejuvenating about that mountain air. Oh yeah. You know ? Yeah, it is. It's unreal. So what all did you do while you were out there? Uh , we went and it was, we stayed in steamboat , um, at the ski, like [inaudible] area. Uh, but we went like fly fishing, like guided fly fishing and there was this fun, like in town Rodeo deal. It was like, I've never been to one of , oh , it's , it's wild and nuts. Um, and then we just, we did a lot of hiking and , and stuff with the kids and there's just all kinds of stuff. Like we drug them everywhere. So do they like it? Oh yeah. Yeah. That's my, my daughter came back and she was like, I want a horse on a bar. And I'm like, you want to live in the mountains now? Yeah. Yeah. So that's awesome. It was good. It was good. You guys tried to do trips like that? Yeah. Yeah, we do. Um , heard , uh, my wife's dad, his family's out there, some of the , so it gives an s s an excuse to get out there. Um , but yeah, it's been three or four years since we've been out there. OK . Um , it was nice. We went through Wyoming a little bit. Did you drive or we just, we flew and then we rented cars and uh , drove all over the place. So we landed in Denver and then it's like a three hour ish. Okay . Commute out. So sad . Too Bad . No, it was good. It was , I mean, there were some places where you just didn't see anything. Yeah.

Speaker 4:

Mountains and land and I was like, you can breathe. Yeah, I need to get out there. I haven't been to Colorado, but my wife and I went to California last year. We like your cemetery . Yeah. Sequoia, Joshua Tree. I love out there though . But I know it's like, what? But I mean, I dunno , like I love North Carolina, but it's fun. Those places are fun to visit. It kinda gets overwhelming, like where, where should we live? And just like it has , the u s has so many, it's unbelievable, man. Yeah. It's unbelievable. And then you came back to a flood of emails and a bunch of News , right? Yeah. Yeah. And it sounds like it's a big day for your organization and a lot going on. It's huge. Before we get into that, I want to talk a little bit about what was the driving inspiration for you to start this program? Sure. Um, so in 2005 , uh , I was graduating from college, I went to Appalachian State , um, and I was graduated from college in December of Oh five. And like right around that time frame, you know, life was good. It I thought, you know, man, it's finally like you're getting out of school and you look forward to all the things. Um, and being an adult, right ? Like literally a week after graduating, my dad got diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. So it was like, it was Kinda one of those things where I was like, this, this end , right? Like, I'm just kind of pushing it away like this. This isn't going to have the, like the, the bad ending, you know, that you're scared of, you know, I just can't even imagine that. Right. And we just had, I mean, my dad was never sick before, always active and like just always around. Um, so that, that, that was in December, in May of Oh six, he passed away. So it was a six month, like just whirlwind of like what's going on. You don't even have time to process it . Yeah, no, it was just a , it was, it was horrible. Um, and just to see the, the metamorphosis of what cancer does , um, over that quick time period was just like, I just, I couldn't process it. Um, so, oh, six. I mean, I was, I was starting to teach , um, and uh, teaching , uh , PE. Yeah, I was CCP like health and PE , um, started in the middle school and , um, and then, you know, when my dad was , uh , getting near the end of his days, like in May, like I just switched, I changed schools so I could be closer to my mom. Um, and that was, I started teaching at an alternative high school for a year. Um, so the trail went and where I like, I still didn't know what to do. I was just , uh, it was just, I was a mess, you know, in my head , uh , and you know, going to work everyday . But one of the things it did was I became hyper aware of , um, just relating more to kids and their situations and their , um , especially in those , um , just high poverty schools that I was teaching and where like, they had real situations, you know, and , um, I, for the first time in my life, I could, like, I had empathy for that and be kind of relate to that in a way. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and that opened up relationships that I could, that I never would have had before. You know, with, with those kids. Um, but it wasn't until we moved to this area, Charlotte, North Carolina , um, I started teaching outside of Charlotte and Union county at a title one elementary school and, you know, then it's kindergarten through fifth grade, you know, the scary monsters of, Oh yeah. I can't imagine, you know, it's a different, it's a different , um, beast. Uh, but man, it opened my eyes so much to just like, these kids are wanting something. They're, they're , they're eager for, for , um, things in life to, to happen. And they had, they have like aspirations and dreams and things that they're reaching for regardless of their circumstances because the world hasn't really

Speaker 1:

sunk in yet. And then they have, they can still dream. Right, right. Have inspirate . Right, right. That I guess, doubt that you kinda sometimes encounter in life. Yeah. It hasn't sunk in. Right.

Speaker 4:

And , and like , so I noticed through, through the activities in the games that are always playing with these kids regardless of their skill set or you know, ability level, if I could get them having fun , um, I can build their confidence and I could, it would open up conversation and relationships where , um, they would enjoy their time, build a relationship and things would come out of that. Um, that could just, you know, evolve over time. And , and I got to know the kids a lot better. Uh, but it wasn't until I started doing a dream Wall in my class , uh, every kid in the school put on a , a post it note like what their dream was the first day of school. That wasn't like, dude , this school you just decided God decided to do it. It was a monster wall. Um , and what I wanted to do was help them relate their , their daily actions, their, their, their moods and all these things too . When they walked into my class, they could see who they wanted to become. So it would, it would allow them to focus on what they had to do to

Speaker 1:

that day to reach to them. And they could, you hear that the more that you see your goal or your dream right, like refer back to it, the more likely you are to succeed. Right. It's just you, it's repetition. It's a vision and that vision kind of stays in your mind. Right . So I think you do your thinking, this is what I'm working. Exactly. And it was like I wanted that extrinsic like motivation of the teachers telling them you got to do this. Your parents telling you you got to do this to turn intrinsic where they're like, I want to be that, I want to do that. So let me figure out how to get there. Yeah. That's what's going to really last is absolutely the motivation and inspiration comes from them. Yeah. From externally. Yeah. Cause I feel like those things can wear off over time. Right. But if it's like deep in

Speaker 4:

you like this is what I want. Yeah. True. Passion like that that's going to last . Exactly. And not I'll thought, man. Like I watched them. I mean, it was amazing. Um, because I think as adults things shift a little bit, especially even middle school, high school or whatever. But I watched them like not hesitate to start writing down who they wanted to become. And I , I, I, it just clicked. I was like, you know, they're seeing opportunity before obstacles. As we get older, we start seeing obstacles before opportunity. And we were like, we're scared, we're fearful. We , we see those obstacles, we see failure, we see all these things that are scary and the challenges of life. And they didn't see any of that. And it was powerful to me. Like I remember like near the end of that school year , um, I was standing in front of a first grade class and I choked up in front of the first graders and I said, guys, I want to thank you like you've have , you probably won't understand anything I'm telling you right now, but I want to thank you. Um, and your , you helped me recognize that I have to be a dream chaser too . Wow. And like, so you, you , you're teaching them in the formal sense , but you are getting along . I was getting way more than they were getting, you know, like it was, it was a powerful moment for me. Um, and so, you know, that was my last year of teaching. I mean I had started running excel to fitness before that jumping point. Um, but , uh, the way w the way I formed it was around these two concepts of um, this activity based program where you can build confidence regardless of skill level, regardless of ability level in a team based environment, making it fun and enjoyable. Um, but then through that you're using that platform to integrate the conversations and build on relating it to the character development of reaching for your passion, build the right team around you in life and have grit to overcome your obstacles. Yeah. And I feel like fitness and physical activity is such a good way to kind of develop those characteristics. Yeah . I mean like when it's, when you're doing an activity, it's a , it's a physical object that you're overcoming. Right? Right. And you may have a actual fear of hurting yourself or whatnot, but when you, you're still developing that mental, that mental character, right , right . Mental attributes of when I get to something in real life, I'm going to pursue my passions, right. Become these apps with, develop a team around me. They create such a beautiful metaphor, you guys. Yeah. And if they can, like, if they can have fun and find that enjoyment in doing that , um, and camouflage that with like actual application, it's, I mean, it's powerful. We gave them like a talk, right? You talked to these different, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. And are they pretty receptive to that? Absolutely. Yeah. Um , yeah, it's, it's kinda crazy. Uh, once you start relating the activities done at, with the conversations , um, it's, it's pretty powerful to see how they open up and start discussing that. And it's, you know, we function, I've written a curriculum script of curriculum. So , um, it , it's very, very like straightforward and how you do this and what you do so that a school can run it. But , um, it's, it's pretty cool to see. Like, I just noticed it in my class like, and, and everywhere around me before I started this, like, wait a second, this created the bridge for me to , to build a relationship and encourage this kid to, to recognize their potential and their greatness regardless of their circumstances. And , uh, it was just a cool bridge.

Speaker 1:

No, that's amazing. And I think kids need that. I mean, I adults need to hear it as well, right? Like I feel like that's where a lot of people struggle is they kind of lose focus on, you know, what they really want or what they're truly passionate about and right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. It's , um, there's a lot of components to it. I mean, one thing we're, we're not saying that that they're going to reach the dreams, all the dreams that they set out to do. Uh , I think that's an , a , a misleading , uh , concept. But what we are teaching them is that if you can develop the practices that teach you to reach that, that teach you that intentionality on a day to day basis of, I'm going to fail, but I'm going to keep going and you're going to get to the better you , you know, and just teaching them to reach. So that, that learning that is as powerful because whatever dreams come and go, you still know how to reach

Speaker 1:

the , uh , you mentioned like fear, fear of failure. I think that's probably one of the biggest things that stops people from pursuing whatever that goal is. Yeah . So fitness I think is a great way to , or sports, you know, that's right . Right , right. Way To practice that you're going to fail. It's just going to happen. Right, right. Everybody fails at something. So we're kind of getting in the habit and seeing that failure as an opportunity, you know, it's not just, you don't need to be embarrassed by it. Right. Shamed it. Right. Or, you know, think that, okay, I can't do this. I'm quitting. Yeah. And he was Thomas Edison that said , uh , I didn't, I didn't fail a thousand times. I found I succeeded at finding a thousand ways not to make a light bulb. Right. Right.

Speaker 4:

And that's, that's it. You know, like, and you know, I , I, I contemplate , I mean, I grew up playing sports and I truly think that, you know, I learned what it was to be on it, like to be a part of a team through that. Um, but in this model , um, I didn't want to limit the, the reach and the impact and , uh, I didn't want to create a sports oriented program. I wanted to create something that was functional fitness minded or you know, the activities that will allow any path in any direction , um, for a kid to just build confidence, you know, speeding , agility, balance, strength, cardio, like things that they can apply to whatever they're doing.

Speaker 1:

It really, anybody can learn those, right ? Right.

Speaker 4:

Anybody. And it's just like a confidence building platform to do that. And that way, it's amazing to see, you know, a kid that you know is a travel athlete and a kid that's timid at recess come together in this format where they start learning the power of encouraging one another and building up one another and leaning on one another. And like every different background of kid coming together and saying, you know what, we are a team. That's awesome. We are, you see that happen naturally? Yeah. I mean it's just, well and through the, it's almost like they have no choice because the games and stuff like again, we camouflage it to where, I mean there's challenges even through the Games where you're like having to, you know, link arms are give like every teammate a high five or whatever. Like you have to be thinking. So we're, we're, you know, switching that mindset of independently succeeding versus as a team we're going to get there , um, and work together and through that individually you build confidence to , yeah, no , absolutely. And that's another thing where, I mean, you can apply that really anywhere in life. Absolutely. I have a team and I think there , I mean there is some value in working hard and you know, pulling yourself up. Yeah . Having a team around you is really important. Absolutely. You've discovered that I'm sure as you were building this organization. Yeah. Right? Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the beautiful thing is there's no contradiction of how we operate this organization and how we're teaching the kids to chase their dreams. Like it's , it's passionate team . I mean it's, it's everything we are so it's so fluid and so pure that it just makes it a lot of fun because we, we can genuinely deliver that. Um , because it's been , uh , it has been a fight to get, oh, I bet. Through this journey so far. Um, and there's been a lot of sacrifice and there's been a lot of fear, obstacles and failures and you've lived it like you're living. Yeah. Perfect example of where you're teaching them . And it's been crazy. But I can, you know, that gives me the freedom to , when I'm talking to a group of kids or you know, a whole, like a audience full of parents and kids, I can freely deliver this like with passion and , uh , uh, that's something that I will not contradict, like , uh , be real and , uh, remember where you came from and do it, you know. So that's kind of where you gotten over. It's been eight years, right? It's been eight years now. Yep. Okay. And how many schools are you guys in whole? Um, so let me back up a hair like the, we started here outside of Charlotte. Um, and uh , now we're in 10 different chapters and eight states across the country. Wow. Um, and we're launching, we're launching in southwest Oregon this fall , um, as, as one of our remote locations, I guess. So like it's spreading. Um, and it's been very organic. Um, and uh, but it's cool to see the impact that's happening. And this season we'll , um, we'll surpass , uh, it looks like we're surpassing the a hundred school mark as far as like in one season we'll be in over a hundred schools operating at one time. Um, and so that's cool. We're , we'll, we'll , uh, we're surpassing 8,000 kids , uh, impacted through the program. So we're closing in on 10,000. Incredible. It's fun and it's, it's, you know, it's limiting in a way, but just because like the, you know, each school can only have a 20 participant team. They can have multiple teams, but like, so we're reaching, we're reaching a lot of kids in a lot of different schools. Um, but yeah, if we could open it up to the whole school, it would be a lot different. Now I know you're just kinda limited by like with any nonprofit . Yeah. Sources. Yeah. But I think it's so cool, like 8,000 kids. And if you think about it, you impact that one person or you changed their life. I mean, they're going to influence the people around them, their friends, when, when they get onto their kid and you know, hopefully these are values that they teach their kids. So it's just kind of exponential. Right. You know, teaching people to actually like pursue their passion and their purpose. Yeah. I mean, a lot of things have evolved and come together over the last few years obviously, you know , um , one of the biggest things that that has happened is when we developed the , um , the code , um, and the code is what every, every participant learns while they're in the program and they huddle at the end of every session and say this code. Um, and it kind of brings it all together and it kind of allowed us to get to a jumping point to the next season of our organization. But , um, it says like, it's not easy to chase a dream. Fear. Obstacles and failure are all real, but so are my passion, my team, and my grit and my passion is greater, my team is greater and my grit is greater. I'm a dream chaser. I chase greatness. Oh, that's beautiful. So we're , we're really comparing the challenges and your opportunity and saying, you know what, your passion is greater than your fear. It can be greater. Um, recognize that your team that's around you can be greater and help you through the obstacles in life and your grit can overcome your failures. Like get back up, keep fighting, keep reaching , keep going. Right. So it's a beautiful , uh , connection between the two worlds. That's perfect. Cause if you, you know, you have fear and I think anybody pursuing a passion or a goal there, there's fear. Yeah. But you know, I mean, you had a lot of fear starting . Yeah. Oh yeah. Every day. Yeah . Yeah. And still, you'll always have it. There's always a new challenge, right . Obstacle. But yeah, that passion team grit I think is such a perfect compliment to the things that you face. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. It's Kinda crazy. So then, so where does it go from here? Yeah , today's a big day. Um, so we've been working on it , uh , for a little while, but , um , recognizing the message that we deliver to kids. Um, we recognize and I recognize that our name didn't match up to our message. Um, that the world was seeing that the , the, that our audience was seeing , um, that I want the nation to see. And so from this point on today moving forward, our organization is going to be known as dream chasers. That's awesome. That's exciting dream chasers. Yeah, it's exciting and it really goes along with your message. Absolutely. I mean, and you know, a lot of people have , you know, a lot of people like the name XL to fitness, a lot of people like, I mean they think it's catchy and you know, all that. But , um, I just quickly explained to them that like everything that we do, everything that we are has to resonate what we're about and what we believe in and our mission, our heart, and we want someone to instantly see what we are and who we are. And you know, it's going to allow for a lot of more opportunities to like that, that we weren't really positioned for before. So I'm excited for that stuff. Um, I'm excited for the expansion of programming options. Um, we will be. So, all right. So going back to why I started it, to bridge this gap , um, you know, I was a young man dealing with the pain of losing my father didn't know how to handle that. And I could relate to young men and young boys in a way that I could feel like I could kind of get that message across. So, you know, you're gonna have obstacles in your life like this. Um, uh , with dream chasers switch , um, we are going to be also offering girl programming as well. So girl dream chaser teams. That's pretty cool. Uh, so over the next year, our organization and all of our chapters, we'll be transitioning over to operating and offering these programs across the nation for boy teams and girl teams. Will it be a similar activities and yes. Yeah, it will be functional fitness, like , uh , you know, activity stuff. Uh, and you know, the character development around passion team and grit. You know, I th this, this relates to everyone. That's the thing. I, there's no, you know, I got to a point, I've been thinking about this for like two years. Like how do w , what do we do? How do we do it? There's a, there's a, there's a, there's a heart for this transition. Um, and I just wasn't sure, but, you know, passion team and grit and being a dream chaser. There are no boundaries there. There are no divisions and, and, and dividing lines. And, and I'm not going to lead an organization or lead my life in a way where , um, there's contradiction on some of those things. Um, and I don't believe that there's limitation for anyone to reach for their greatness. We all have a unique path and a unique talent and gifts to reach for our greatness. And I'm not gonna kind of portray our message as one sided. Um, it, it wasn't intended at the beginning to do that. I just, that's where, that's where it's , where my pain was and my passion was, and I, I didn't ask to where I needed to serve, but like as it's grown and , uh , you know, ironically I have two girls , um , two young girls, seven and a three year old. Um, and you know, they've, they've also opened my eyes to this, this, the desire to learn more about what it's , what it becomes, like how do you become a dream chaser, what it's like to be a dream chase where they want to be involved and , and they want to be a dream chaser. And I'm like, you know what, passion team and Grit, I'm telling you the same thing. And I'm telling like these boys and all these things, like there's no division there. And , um, I just, you know, I want, I want the world to see that we're offering boy, teens and girl teams and they're not coed. Um, they're not going to be coed. And you know, I've had questions on that as well, but there's a , a clear rationale behind that. Um, and especially the years I was teaching. Like I recognize that in those circles of, of conversation, I want to protect that and, and respect those conversations in that intimate setting with the boys and the girls. And , and I don't want any kind of, you know, distraction or you know, anything like that. So I want it to be pure and real and genuine and deep, you know? And Yeah. And it has nothing to do with athletic ability or anything like that because I mean, I watched girls every day beat the boys and y'all got it. It's not any, it has nothing to do with that at all. Um, it's just respecting the , the circles and the conversation. Yeah , that's , that's so exciting. The other thing that this change is going to create, like this program, you know, it's , it's, it's a six week program. It functions two days a week after school and any elementary school, public, private, charter, whatever, across the country. Um, and then the six week season ends and the dream chaser challenge, which is the obstacle course challenge that all participants like link arms and go through this together. And it's a way for us to end with the metaphor of a , with the right team, you know, face those challenges. You can overcome those challenges and you can finish this race. You can reach for your greatness. Um, with this name change. And with the girl programming , uh , as well included, we're taking our dream chaser challenge and not only to it before it's been like wrapped up and just in the walls of our program, Kinda like tucked in all participants, parents come in , watch community, you know, involvement come and watch. So now we're turning it into a community challenge. Uh , like adults too. Yeah. Yeah. So, so the kids will, the kids will, you know, they'll run the race with their teammates from all the schools across the, across the area. Um, and there's also ways for businesses and school staff and parents to form and run this challenge as well. Um , I mean warpaint Ben Dream Chaser, headbands, like all these things, they're going to be running with a flag that says we are dream chasers and they have to link arms and get through these things together. But it's, I mean, it's not only a team building opportunity for, for businesses and staff at school and all these things, but like, it's just a way to bring community and families together and SOA for us to deliver this dream, chase our message to everyone. And you know, it doesn't end right. Gotta keep reaching . Yeah, exactly. When you, even when you graduate middle school and high school, right. That's something like you said, like adults struggle with. Yeah. Everybody can benefit from this message. So that's, Oh man, that's so cool. I love doing those kinds of racist . I mean, it's not, and here's the thing, like, you know, the tough mudders and the Spartans and all this stuff , like those are amazing. Um, we're not trying to get into that zone. Right, right. This is going to be , uh, like a, a family friendly event. It might be, you know, around a 1.5 mile 10 obstacles. Um, and our obstacles are not like moving dirt and making huge like walls and stuff. It's, it's a piping system that we use that can create an obstacle course on any surface. Um, so it's, it's more about the challenge and the , the camaraderie that's built , um, along the journey. I would 100% do that. And I think, yeah , I love like the end of the Spartan races and tough monitors and that kind of stuff. But it is, I mean, you can develop teams, but it's more, it is more like individual. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you want this to be really focused on the team that you race with, that you sign up for. You all kind of help each other yeah. Through these apps . Yeah . And you know, it's another thing, you know, running this nonprofit organization , um, the real need is sports supporting scholarships and, and financial assistance for , for parents that want their, their kid in this program. And , um, we've served every single scholarship request ever, like brought to us , um, to serve these kids. And you know, that is, it creates a lot of sacrifice on the operational side because we, we both w we're going to serve, we're going to serve. Um, but this new dream chaser challenge is a way for the community to get behind. You know, signing up for a challenge like this, but their, their registration will go to support scholarships throughout the community for more and more kids to do it. Yeah. So it's a scholarship based support like system going on. That's perfect. So there's what, 2025 kids per team. There's 20, we usually do two coaches out of school for 20 participants. Um , if it goes over the curriculum, it can handle 24, so we can stretch it a little bit, but we encourage it at a third coach and then beyond 24, the second team needs to be formed. Okay. So this is typically takes place like afterschool ? Yeah. Yeah. So after school , I mean some, some schools have ran it before school , um , as well. So I mean, and they can run it the two days a week that , that it works for the school and the two coaches, they don't have to have , uh , a fitness background or anything like that because we provide all equipment, all resources, all training, materials, training , all that stuff , uh , videos, demonstrations of all the challenges, all that stuff every week for them throughout the season. But just somebody that has a passion and is enthusiastic for impacting kids to be dream chasers. Um, and it can be, you know, male, female, like , um, you know, parents, staff members at a school like, you know, volunteer approved. Like, you know, it could be right . It just people that are wanting to get involved and make an impact. So what , when a kid shows up like that first day, what , what can they expect? Oh man, we, so, you know, one thing that we start off with every season is a dream wall that goes into school. Yeah. So every, every team creates a dream wall that goes inside the school on a bulletin board or whatever. But like they created as a, as a group and they put their dreams on it. Um , and they're reminded of that , uh, throughout the season. Um, from, from session one through session 12 there , um, kind of how a session is broken down is a quick, you know, rally like a talk, a small group talk around what's going on for the day, what, what the, what the character discussion is. So that everything with the challenges can be referenced back to, you know, passion team, grit character. So the, the activities that they do are tied back. Oh yeah. The discussion at the beginning of the session. Yes. Yeah. Um, so then, you know, quick, fun, warm up or whatever. And then there's for the two coaches that like say you and I are coaching , uh, we have 20, 20 kids. Um, we have two small group challenges where you take 10, I take 10 for 10 minutes. We do these times like little fun challenges. I mean they're unique, they're different. It's not like how many pushups can you do in a minute kind of thing. It's not that stuff at all. Um, again, we're camouflaging it with fun and , and building confidence through that. So while stuff, I mean we have pool noodles with cones on the end where they get to throw like, and knock Collins third . It's like run through ladders and all kinds of stuff. So it's different. So after 10 minutes, me and you like, we switch the groups and I had the other challenge, challenge a challenge B. And after that 20 minute section where we're doing that, we switched to a showdown where it's a 20 minute massive game and all the, all the participants are in there and, and doing what they've applied in those small group challenges. And then we circle back around with character discussion at the end , um, the, the code and everything. And then that way they're leaving and they get an inspirational card, a quote at the end of every session. So that as they're riding home with their mom or dad or guardian, they, they can say, you know, this is something that is going to stick with me today. I'm going to put this on my bathroom mirror, on my wall in my bedroom and I'm going to remember that this is, this is what I need to do. Um , so it's just quick inspirational quotes and stuff. So have you seen, I don't know how much, you know, you keep in touch with the kids or seeing them , but like, have you seen how this is him impacted them like beyond those six weeks? Uh , yeah . And we're starting, you know, we've been going long enough now to where we're starting to see some of the older kids like coming back and saying how much the impact that we've had. We've had a lot of kids , um , volunteer that were participants. They come back and volunteer at the dream chaser challenge and stuff and, you know, hug my neck and say, you know, this made a big difference in my life. Um, and I feel like we're just now getting the root system that will make an even greater impact on these kids because we have a clear defined message. And like I'm telling you at the end of the dream chaser challenge, when we, when we, we, we say the code together, which is powerful, they've been saying it all season, right? Every single event that I've been to across the country, I'll start it. They finish it. I mean, they take over. It's yellow . I mean, it's rumbling. They Tan . It's like, yeah, I mean I, I'll, I have to say it's not easy to chase a dream and it's like I just hold the mic down and they, they know it. And I think it's ingrained, but like if they could just remember that code , um , that's going to get them through some stuff and that's, that's the goal, like, Eh , yeah. And be it beyond just whatever they do, whether it be a sport or absolutely dynamics . I mean, really anything. Absolutely. It's, it's pretty cool. Uh, but they, they know it. And I, you know, the first event when I was like, all right guys, I don't know if you know this, I'm , you've been saying it a little bit during the season. I don't know. Like, I'll , I'll say it with you if you know any of the words. Yeah . I just, I just stepped back, teared up. Oh, I bet. And like, oh, it doesn't let them yell. You seeing like all these kids, oh , they've just owned what they're owning. It has six weeks. Yeah. And that's it. Like they're the, it's the extrinsic is turned and they're starting to [inaudible] . Some things are starting to click, you know, and it's intrinsic now and it, I just hope that they carry that and, but I have started seeing , um, some of these kids circle back around and, and just keep in touch and contact us. Uh, but it's going to be cool the next couple of years to really see the real impact as we're, as we're growing. Oh, I'm sure. Yeah. I'm sure you'll have kids come back two years late . I hope, man. What my desire is, is to run alongside of the , the message that schools are sending. Um , and I want, I want these kids to, to recognize that, hey, wait a second. Um, every step matters that I take. Like when I'm in school or out of school, Eh , it's, it's who I am and the reflection of who I am. So I need to be respecting my teachers, like building up people and around me, my teammates, my classmates, my friends, my peers, whatever. Um , respecting my parents or guardians. Like those things, Matt , I want them to connect. You know, when you, here's my thing , like I keep, I tell these kids, like, you don't know how , how hard to reach until you know what you're reaching for. Right? Like, if I don't have a dream, then I'm Kinda just like going day to day and I'm just doing. But if I'm, I know what I'm reaching for, then, then I started recognizing that everything along the journey of this reach is connected. So it does matter how hard I work. It does matter how I respect others. It does matter that I'm make everything around me better because it's a reflection of who I am and who I want to be. And if I'm reaching for something, I gotta be intentional. Yeah . Like I can't just wake up one day and expect to beat this. There's not going to happen. Right? Right. So these, these tentacles that, that I want them to be aware of, and you know, I think you, you don't know what, you don't see what you're not looking for. Right? So like if you start reaching, I want them to start being aware of that daily action. Um, and that daily reach. And I think that's what's beginning to happen in these kids where, I mean, I've had tons of testimonials now parents will send me testimonials where, you know, even down to like I'm a mom sent me a testimonial last season that said, you know, my son never valued school. He never valued working hard. He didn't know why that was important. Um, and after he went through the program, it was the first semester ever that he made honor roll and he said to his mom, it's because I'm reaching for something now. That's amazing. Um, I have a dream. I realized that it connects. I mean, he said he saw the connection, not just, hey, maybe this will help me in whatever sport or I was hitting . Right. He connected it to what was important to him. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So it doesn't just start on the field after school. It starts, it starts when you put your foot to the ground in the morning. Like, what are you doing today to be the best you can be. Um, and w and , and again, in our, in our motto, in our code, like failure and we , we fail. We all fail. We all mess up. We're not gonna be perfect every step of the way. Believe me, I'm , I'm the prime example of that. Um, but, but it's the, it's the action. It's the effort. It's the , as the mindset, you know, and if you can start just doing that saying like , even like just a little step every day. I think sometimes when you see a goal or a dream, it can be overwhelming. It's like so far to go. Yeah, we can break it down into smaller steps. Get every day . You just need to do this step closer, one step closer. Yeah. I mean, I lived, I, I, you know, and in third and fourth grade, I didn't make good grades. Um, I remember my dad saying, I can't go to school and make those grades for you. So do it. Like, get, like, figure out, like work hard, but no one can do it for you. Like your teachers can encourage you, people can encourage you. So my mom and dad were saying these things like, and it , you know, by fifth or sixth grade it started to click. But like even that, like I didn't, I was waiting at that young age for someone to do it for me right when it clicked, it clicked. And I want these kids, I want it to click like now. Yeah. I feel like that probably doesn't click for a lot of people to tell us later in life. Yeah. I think people go through like an event kind of like you did or sometimes you hit rock bottom and you kind of realize, yeah, Mrs wanting you to do, but if you can make that happen and show this early on, I mean you can change the whole course of their life. Absolutely. That's what I'm hoping for. Sure. What kind of dreams are they writing on these little man z paper? I, you know, so cause that's like at the individual school , so I don't really get to see , see them all. But , um, it's just all kinds of things. And I think that, you know, the beauty of it is that it's all kinds of things. Yeah. It's there, it's theirs and they're there . They're figuring out how to own that. Um, and so it, yeah, it's across the board, man. It's so cool. It's good. I'm sure it's athletics. Academics . Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And you know, even even those , uh, you know, that say, you know, I'm going to be an NBA superstar or whatever. I mean, you might, you might, but here's the thing, like I was like, I was talking about the reach, like, okay , if you're gonna do that, then you ignore, you need to start putting in the work. So work ethic begins, right. And those values in those intentional like moves. So what a , what a whatever, you know, like whether they reach that are not , um, that's for them to , to decide, you know, that's for them to , uh, to go after. Yeah. Kind of teaching. This is what it takes. He , these are the steps you're going to have to take day in and day out. Right. And you know, whether or not they're willing to do those things is up to them. Yeah. I mean, cause I mean, like I didn't, I went growing up saying, hey, I'm going to start a nonprofit and I'm going to, but circumstances led me to a path where I wanted to turn my pain into passion, like for purpose. And , um, but yeah, I mean that was something everybody along the way, like y'all wanted to be a , I wanted to be a big league pitcher. No . Um, well, three knee surgeries later and like all that stuff. Yeah. I mean, not that I may ever had a chance to do that, right. Circumstances blocked that path and , um, but, but it led me to here. Yeah. Um, and I can talk about the struggles and the s and all the, all the obstacles. There are obstacles, right . You know? Yeah. We, yeah . Whatever path you go down, it's awesome . Yeah. And nothing ever goes according to plan, right. Nothing, nothing . Just you're gonna have obstacles that come up. You're gonna have failures. Things are gonna come up that you can't control and recalibrate. Right. You do. You do. Yeah. Just keep preaching. Have you, have you seen like kids share their dreams with each other? Yeah. Hey . Yeah. I mean that's some of the exercise that we, we do like especially with the Dream Wall. Like they're , they're sharing those, those thoughts and um, with each other and kind of working through like, not only sharing it but working through the path to get there kind of thing. Like, all right, now you have, you have your, like what right now is your end goal , um, or a big dream. So tell me what your plan is to get closer to it. And that's some things we're working through with them as well. Um, you can probably build, like making, build accountability with each other. Absolutely. Absolutely. And we, and we tell them like we give them, they all get like , uh , bands at the beginning. So, and you know, it the significance of like, all right, we're a team. We, we want to check on each other during the day. Like making sure that, you know, if somebody is getting out of line and just kinda like a self check , you know , accountability. Um, but we encourage them to, to just own that and then be reminded that their actions are a reflection who they are. So like look down and, and see that like this, this, this text on this band. I am a dream chaser. Right. Okay . We'll get after it. You know, you got to do some stuff. Um, so there's accountability building into that as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I mean there's going to be ups and downs with everything and I think that's where team teamwork comes in is , you know, when you're down, okay. Team comes around and lifts that person up and vice versa . So like maybe some days I'm gonna feel great and be motivated, but you know, my teammates going to be down. Yeah . So I need to lift him up like he did for me when I was down to . Yeah. It's good. It's um, no, I mean it's never too early to like learn those types of things. Yeah. The activities that you're doing, the functional fitness, I think is the perfect way to do it. That's cool. Yeah, it's fun. It's fun. It's working. Yeah. Now it sounds like it. I mean, I'm, I'm impressed with how fast you guys have expanded over the past eight years and how many schools you're in.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. It's , um, you know, from the day to day, it doesn't mean to cry , but it's cool. Like I even the culture of our organization and the leaders , uh , um, we, we implement , um, uh , thing just, we celebrate. We have to celebrate. We have to celebrate our progress and reflect because it's a posture of gratitude. Right , right. Um, so recognize that. And , um, so every once in a while we'll step back as a , you know, once a month, twice a month, whatever, like, or you know, every quarter and say, we're , where did we come from? You know, where, where do we, what progress have we made over the last three months or six months or one year? And let's celebrate that. Let's celebrate the small things. Um , you should, yeah. You don't overlook that. You can't overlook it because you won't appreciate

Speaker 1:

how you got there. Yeah. Well , and I mean, when you accomplish a big thing, it's typically an accumulation of a bunch of small things. So , yeah. Yeah. Celebrating those I think is important. Um, where do you see it like 10 years from now? Like where do you, what is your hope for innovation for this? Yeah. Um, uh , in

Speaker 4:

10 years I would like to be in, in every state across America. Um, ah , that's a lofty goal, but we're dream chasers, right? Um, but , uh , we're on a good path to and setting the groundwork for that. Um, I would like to also expand into, you know, middle school and potentially high school or , or collaborate with impacting high school students around like a dream chaser academy or some kind of leadership opportunity where it's a full circle back around to serving the, the elementary kids and the teams and just serve as opportunities. But just like, I want to build that out more. Um, right now, you know, obviously we're not at a place where we can , um , just operational capacity and, and I want to do, we, we, we want to do things with excellence. So I wanna make sure that this model is like, as far as, you know, the boy teams and the girl teams and the street and Pacers Organization is serving elementary level whale before we step. But I do, I think the expansion of that will just allow kids to, you know, when they get into fifth grade and , uh, move into middle school , uh, I don't want there not to be a chain of support and a link for them to like keep getting fed through this message and this thought process as they go through a very, very confusing time. And they're like, oh, yeah , yeah. You want them to be continually reminded of yeah. Those kinds of , yeah , that's right. So I'd either like to like partner, you know, with organizations that are doing, you know, more of that or create our own opportunities to where , um, it's our messaging and we're, we're, you know, fueling that. Right. So what are some of the biggest obstacles as an organization you guys are facing? I'm assuming, similar to all nonprofits is ? It's, yeah. I mean, it comes down to volunteer and I've been like fundraising, right? Yeah, yeah. You, you hit it. Um, you know, especially with serving so many scholarships , um, we've, we've gotten to the point as an organization where, you know, we're, we're really looking for national support and, you know, donations to where we can support more scholarships and , um, support the, the mission of this organization. Because, you know, as we grow more and more that it creates more operational demand to, to, to fuel it with excellence, you know, and to, to wear , operate the way we need to operate. So , um, you know, the more kids we serve and the more areas we serve , um, we, we want to , we want to have a , a support system that will be able to serve them with excellence. And so, right . We're getting to that point where it's as hard as stretching. Um, do you want to compromise the quality? Absolutely. Absolutely. So, so yeah, like , um, you know, community sponsors , um, could be a big thing. Um, you know, we were looking at , we're always looking for community sponsors to sponsor or a team or a sponsor. The dream chaser challenge through, I mean everything from t shirt sponsors to vendors to title sponsors, to re sponsors. You know, there's a lot opportunity to have community involvement through that that will support a lot of the scholarships. So on a chapter level that is, that's a big need and obviously volunteers , um, you know, with helping as schools and , and coaching or, or, you know, volunteering for the dream chaser, challenge ending events so that we can have enough to feel that, that event , um, on a national level, I really think now's the time as we switch over to dream chasers that , um, someone's about to come on in a big way. And , um, I'm really looking for companies that align and really have a heart for empowering dream chasers in what we do. Um, but , uh, we, we could do wonders with like having some national support that will help fuel our chapters, our growing chapters, our future chapters, all these things. Um, because it's, it's , yeah, we're getting to that point. We, we need some, yeah. As the , the leader of the organization, you're passionate and you, you see the change that you see, the impact you're making. Right. You're just, if I could just get in front of people and like tell, right. You know , the decision makers that some of these companies like absolutely. Who wouldn't want to latch onto this. Yeah. You know ? Yeah, yeah. Um , yeah, there's, and I think it's coming. I mean we're , we have a footprint now. Um, I d like you said, I just, I need to be, I need to get in front of him . I need to talk to him . Um, and uh, hopefully we can have some support, some larger support coming down the pipeline to where, hey, let's look at launching five new chapters next season or 10 new chapters next season . Let's get across the nation real fast and , uh, let's do it right. Um , and just rally a bunch of community minded people and leaders that , um , are running these organizations to say, you know what, like, these are going to be our future workers, our employees. Like, we won't dream chasers as employees of our organization at our company. This organization is doing that and fueling that. We want to get behind it. Um, I think it's coming. I've just, I'm looking for and waiting for and seeking out the , those kind of companies. I mean, all it takes is like one person to hear your message resonates with them. And I mean that can take it to this level. Yeah. What is the coaching commitment look like? So it's , um, yeah, it's a one hour after school, two days a week and the coaches can, can pick the two days that work best for them. Okay . So typically elementary, you know, gets out two or three, like two 30 or three 30 or something like that. Um, and uh, so it's just one hour after that. And then, I mean, parents pick them up at the site and it's the two days a week for 12 sessions total. So six weeks, 1210 sessions total. And um, and then the ending event . So it's , it's brief, it's quick. It fits well into a school calendar, like function around holidays and stuff. But , um, we want to make it convenient for, for adults and , um, and potential coaches to get involved as well. Um, even even junior coaches like high school or college age, like, you know, coaches that can come in and assist and help and, and, and lead teams as well. So , um, we're looking for coaching pipelines and that kind of thing. But parents and community minded , uh, you know, school volunteers and stuff that you do the training, you train them for what they, there's the ks and yet , yes , there's, I mean it's literally like, I know there's an online training that makes it convenient. They can watch as soon as they sign up and they can kind of go through like who we are, what we do, how we do it. Uh, and then like the scripted curriculum is literally like a hundred page curriculum that shows diagrams, a , you can read it word for word if you had to with the discussions. Um, and then we, eh , we also provide the video links to show the games and action and the set up. Like, I mean, downtown, we have a lot of five paces from this cone to this cone, this, you know, like it gets down to the nitty gritty kind of thing. But , um, yeah, we, we honestly like from step one to like day one to the , the ending event, like we're in consistent communication with our coaches and it's literally it, if you have a passion for kids and , um, you know, you're enthusiastic and you like being around a group of kids like that and you want to pour into them , uh , you can do this. And I'm sure that they get a lot out of it too. Right. You were saying earlier, I mean, I'm sure that they get inspired by watching these kids. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, sometimes, you know, especially at the beginning , um, the, you know , uh , group of what has been, you know, 20 boys , um, can feel like 150 boys. Right. But , um, you know, it always, the story always happens where it's like, you know, after second or third session , um, you know, they're starting to see the effects of this message and, you know, they, they are , they can just see it. Um, and they're starting to get the feedback from the boys and it's inspiring to them. And I mean, I've had multiple coaches say, you know, this was more impactful for me than I feel like, like that I had on the boys. And I'm like, well, I'm sure it's the other way from their perspective, but they're there , they're being uplifted. And my goal is for a coach to never ask , have to ask like, how do we do this? Or when do we do this or what do we do? But we want to serve them the whole step and make them feel appreciated. And because they're the face of the program and that's how we, we have, we have to function , um, that way to just, I guess, scale, you know, and to be in more places than once. Cause like in the Charlotte area last season, there were, there were 25 or so elementary schools doing it. And you know, that's happening on a lot of the same days and a lot of same times. And uh, it's, you know, that's how we

Speaker 1:

have to work to maximize impact. Yeah, no, it sounds, it sounds like you made, you're making a huge impact and for these kids lives are being changed , uh, you know, forever. So it's cool man. Um, thank you . Yeah , no thanks for doing this. I mean, anything, anything else that you know, you want to get out there? Oh, I think, I think we covered it. How kind of good yeah. Well for, yeah, for everybody listening, I mean go check out the website. Um, so just have it do a newsletter. Yeah, we'll do a newsletter. So the website right now is x to f.org that we'll be changing to dream chasers.org. Okay. Where's we're going to be releasing that , uh , sometime in the next week or so. So that's going to be switching over our social media platforms. We'll be switching over to dream chasers stuff. So go follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitter. Okay. Yeah. And a B and dream chaser. Absolutely. Thank you, man. Thanks man.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible] .