by Ross Merrin
The Santa Monica screening of STUCK and Q&A that followed was a privilege to attend. Craig has spoken about what a great country this is, populated by good people all across the U.S.
Before Easter weekend, the auditorium had an energy better than most people would expect in Los Angeles, and by the end of the evening the contributions of the crowd were apparent. “What can we do?” one woman inquired. When Craig asked her, “How many Facebook friends do you have?” Her answer was 270, and the reply back: share the STUCK trailer and website and ask friends and family to sign the petition. I had heard about the interactions after the screening everywhere, but it was heartwarming and wonderful to witness in person for the first time.
After the Q&A session ended and the auditorium had emptied, people took photos in the lobby of the theatre and shared their stories. One woman with a cable TV show was passionate about continuing to help. She pledged to tweet her 35,000 followers about STUCK and urge them to see for themselves the power of the movie so they could learn about circumstances and conditions that few people know exist. We got on the bus, positively charged by the energy and desire of decent people to make a difference.
Ron, who has been behind the wheel of the STUCK tour bus since it left Washington D.C., started steering us for Fresno and managed to get us around LA’s blocked off on-ramps and late night traffic jams. Up the 5 Freeway and passing quite a few police cars’ flashing lights along the way, he pulled up to the hotel after 3:30 AM. Toby and I took a room and Craig stayed on the bus as he had a 10 AM meeting with a local congressman while we were still sleeping.
Before noon, Craig and I were in a restaurant meeting three local people—Joseph, Randy and William—all who are contributing through both personal efforts and church groups to make their communities and our country a better place to live. After lunch, the former mayor of Fresno came on the bus and when the two former quarterbacks met face-to-face (Craig and Alan Autry both played college and professional football), there was a positive explosion of like-minded desire and determination to keep moving forward in a positive way.
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Craig is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. He has seen the pain up close and personal, and feels the suffering that exists today. Rather than turn their backs on millions of children in need of help, he and his wife Kathi have dedicated their lives and made personal commitments to making things better for those that can’t speak for themselves. They have been planting positive seeds, barnstorming from a bus and taking a town hall meeting on wheels to more than 60 cities over a 3-month time period. By beginning in local communities, they will start a grassroots movement that may change the world: by matching the more than 10 million children stuck in orphanages around the world with 2 million Americans who want to adopt. Our hope is to give kids the chance for the one thing they need most for their physical and emotional well-being and development, which is a loving family to belong to.
A Win-Win solution is in our sight and frustratingly the “red tape” is preventable. How I wish our elected leaders could hear for themselves what a civil discussion sounds like and see the beginnings of an ongoing dialogue from caring good-hearted American citizens across our country. This isn’t and shouldn’t be a political issue whatsoever as left and right, Republicans and Democrats all agree that the current situation is wrong. The system is broken and commissioned studies have practical answers of how to fix it. Hopefully, people who sign the petition and continue to participate as the bus tour continues will motivate politicians here in America to connect with their conscience and better selves to “do the right thing”.
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It is 4 PM and the STUCK bus is parked in front of a 16-plex theatre in Clovis, California, as volunteers are unloading materials to prepare for tonight’s audience on this traveling roadshow. On short notice, the former mayor of Fresno jumped on the phone to ask 13-year-old adopted Megan to attend. Her inspirational story of finding a family after her birth mother intentionally caused her to lose one of her legs hasn’t prevented Megan from riding horses and serving as a good example of how young children can reach their potential if given a chance.
Who knows what great stories and good stuff will happen tonight? I know similar to the Jackson Browne version of song STAY, that when he mentions the roadies packing up after the concert, that Craig and the team will “get up and do it again, Amen” tomorrow straight through till Washington, D.C. We should support their efforts, not just because they’re doing it for the right reasons, but because after 20,000 gallons of gasoline and traveling thousands of miles across the country from coast to coast and in between, it makes U.S. better when we watch out not only just for our families and friends. Orphaned children do not need our money but future families need the collective content of our country’s character and our individual caring to count.
P.S.: At 4:30 PM, there was a knock on the tour bus door from the mall security guard named Dave, asking us if we could move the bus. After Toby and I talked with him a few minutes, we invited him on board to give him a DVD of STUCK. Dave told us that he has two adopted children of his own and that his son has a 10-year-old adopted daughter from Taiwan that took 3 years of fighting red tape to get through. His wife can’t make it tonight due to a commitment to their church group on Good Friday of Easter week end but he’s going to share and show STUCK to their church and he will send a second DVD we gave to him to his granddaughter so she can watch it with her family, too. I’m looking forward to introducing Dave to Craig before tonight’s screening. We are so fortunate to be on board.