Changing Four Lives: A Scholarship for a Dear Friend in Need

Meet Erick.

Erick with his sweet daughter, Kamila.

Erick is a police officer in Guatemala.  I met him when he was the police escort for the humanitarian medical team I traveled with to the jungles of Guatemala to do free surgery for people in need last year.

Well, obviously I didn’t personally do the free surgery.  These people weren’t that desperate.  

I just invaded everyone’s space with my camera during the surgeries.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Right when I met Erick, I felt like I already knew him  -- it caught me off guard how familiar he felt to me, actually.  Insert your own spiritual philosophy here, but I feel like I knew him before this life.  I was all the more caught off guard when he volunteered the same feeling.  Talk about a trippy... trip.

Hahaha, “trippy trip.”

A very bad picture of both of us, but it's the only one we have together, so there ya go.

Since traveling to Guatemala, I have gotten to know Erick and his sweet wife Elisa very well.  They speak to me every day because they know I'm trying to become fluent in Spanish, and they want to help me, because they authentically love helping people.  I’ve spoken to their friends.  Always the skeptic, I’ve concluded there is no doubt that these are good people.

I’ve heard stories about Erick -- some he doesn’t know that I know -- about how he worked tirelessly in the mud to rescue families during a hurricane, and how as he pulled children’s bodies out from the rubble, he immediately prayed for each of them.  

Guatemalan police pulled many bodies from the rubble of Storm Agatha.

The storm devastated much of the third world country.  Many people did not survive.

He is an intelligent, hilarious, good man who asks for nothing for himself (except to drive my drone someday -- he is fascinated by my drone, hahaha).  Elisa volunteers regularly at her community’s church and welcomes people in need with open arms.  She, too, is humble and never asks for anything.  Their children are sweethearts.

Erick and Elisa -- amazing human beings

In Guatemala, unless you are born with wealthy (and often corrupt) connections, it is very difficult to find opportunities to excel and provide for your family.  It’s difficult to find a job that pays enough to survive -- let alone go to school and further a career.  Many of them live in huts or cement blocks -- all the things you might expect from a third world country.

As a full-time police officer in Guatemala, Erick is paid around $600 a month. Let me repeat that -- $600 a month. That blows my mind.  In order to make even that $600, Erick has to work a 12-hour bus ride away from home.  He sleeps at the police station for about 8 to 10 days in a row and returns home for a couple days at a time to see his family, and then repeats the process.  And while expenses in Guatemala are not the same as they are here, they are actually not as different as you might expect, and that $600 is not much at all for a family of four.

Guatemala’s working class, including its police officers, legitimately live in poverty.  

Click here to help.

I got to film some of the local kids on my trip, and I loved them to pieces.

To add to it all, a few years ago, Erick and Elisa were struck with further financial hardship when a family member they trusted unexpectedly robbed them of the savings they had -- they were victims of awful luck.  And after telling me the story, Elisa firmly declared “I was angry and so upset, but I knew I needed to forgive [the family member].  And so I did.  Even though we don’t have money, we have peace.”

As I’ve gotten to know Erick, I have come to believe that all his desires in life center around making other people happy -- especially his family.  He sees his girls growing up and understandably desires opportunity for them.  And rather than join some of the corrupt ranks of Guatemala’s dark side and lie or steal or cheat to provide more for his family, Erick chooses to work hard and have faith that his God will provide.

That’s where we come in.

Their daughters: Kamila and Crystal.

One thing that can help Erick is a promotion -- that would likely allow him to live at home and be able to watch his daughters grow up, instead of a 12-hour bus ride away.  It would also mean digging out of the financial pit they’re currently in, and provide more opportunities for his daughters.

In order to be promoted, Erick needs to enroll in the local university, which he has a strong desire to do.  But unlike the nation I am so blessed to live in, there are no scholarships or financial aid programs available to Erick.  And even though university enrollment is comparatively cheap to what I’m used to, every dollar he pays out of pocket toward his education increases the chance of skipping lunch that day.  He just doesn't have the means.

Seeing this family struggle breaks my heart.  And while I hate asking for money more than I hate when hangers in my closet get tangled up and all my clothes fall on the floor (a first world problem that I’m embarrassed to say turns me into the Hulk -- minus the muscles), the pain of not helping this sweet family is far greater.

I’ve run the numbers, and for $5,000, Erick can attend his local university for the full four years.  He can earn the degree he has his eye on. He will be eligible for promotion.  And most importantly, he can live in the same house as his family.   

$5,000 can change four lives.

I think I spent $5,000 on books alone when I was in college.

And let's be honest. I’ve probably spent $5,000 on total race entry fees since I started running.

Wow… I feel… just wow.

This $5,000 also supports putting honest people in governmental positions in the country of Guatemala.  It teaches a willing, hard-working man to fish, who will no doubt use his blessings to bless the lives of others.

Erick and the other officers at his station threw a party for the "poor kids" in the neighborhood.

By the way -- He has no idea I'm doing this, so on the off chance that we share a mutual contact, please don't let the cat out of the bag (dogs are ok). You'd be surprised -- I just found out that my husband goes to school with his niece. It's a small world after all... la la la la la... sorry about that.

I know there are millions of people in Guatemala, many of whom are worse off financially than Erick and Elisa.  I’ve met some of them.  But I personally know this family, and they are at least as deserving.  This family is the one I go to sleep wishing I could help.  

I’ve done my research and tested money transfers and I feel I know how to safely ensure funds are used properly.  Rest assured, I will monitor and control all the financial contributions, so as long as you trust me, you can know that your donation is going to a good place.  All contributions will go directly to this cause -- I obviously won’t take squat.  I’ve got my own student loans to pay (or I’d probably just hand over this whole donation myself), but I also don’t make $600 a month, so I’m good.

If we are able to raise more than $5,000, that money can be used to pay for living and additional school expenses -- there is still need beyond our goal.

But as I promised, if we can reach our goal of $5,000, I will literally tie 25 balloons to myself, climb to the tallest peak at Peter's Canyon on a crowded Saturday morning, and do the Thriller dance in front of a video camera.

If we raise $10,000, I'll post a fully edited pro music video of this disaster on YouTube.

So if you can spare any amount -- great or small -- whether you have a desire to be an answer to prayers, or just want to watch me make a full-on public mockery of myself -- I thank you so humbly for your support.

Thank you for helping me change lives.


  1. What a sweet story. Hanging on my bathroom wall is, "be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." His story makes me feel like my problems aren't as bad. I will donate $50 to help. It's easier for me if I give you the cash, I trust your heart. You are so kind to help this family.


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