Have you ever heard the name Zach Bonner? Are you familiar with his story? If not, (and even if you are) you are definitely going to want to stick around.
When Zach was 8 years old, his family’s home was spared by hurricane Charlie. Unfortunately, there were a lot of families that it didn’t miss and this reality weighed heavy on Zach’s heart. As a boy, he believed strongly that it only takes one person to make a difference- and then he proved it. What began as mission to gather donated water and supplies, in his little red wagon, for those who lost in hurricane Charlie is now, several years later, a charity spread from coast to coast and deeply impacting the lives of homeless and underprivileged youth. The Little Red Wagon Foundation, run by now 15 year old Zach, is an amazing organization. We had the privilege of screening the film last week before Genny and I got the opportunity to speak with Zach himself. The movie is really incredible. The story IS INCREDIBLE. What this boy has been able to accomplish is nothing short of miraculous.
I could keep raving about it, but I want you guys to watch the movie (available at WalMart), read the story and if you can- find out how you can support Little Red Wagon. Get your kids involved, if you have them. Think about it! At least see the movie… This kid will blow your socks off, I promise! Oh yeah, and did I mention this kid walked across the United States? Seriously… WATCH THE MOVIE!
As i mentioned, we had the chance to sit down and talk to Zach last week, and I let Genny carry most of the interview. I REALLY wish I could play the audio for you because it was her first interview and she was so nervous. It was cute!
M- I have to tell you, Zach, we were really impressed with your movie and especially with your story! I am shocked that we haven’t heard of your foundation before.
Z- thank you, that means a lot.
M- Was it your idea to make a movie? How did that part of your journey come about?
Zach- No, it wasn’t. We were approached awhile ago and then didn’t hear anything for several months so when they did get back to us, we were pretty excited because we thought that the true heart of the movie had the potential to really bring a lot of awareness to homeless youth, and so it’s been an incredible journey from getting to work with our screenwriter to our director- It has just been incredible.
Gen- How can kids get involved with your charity?
Zach- Well, i would encourage them to go to my website, which is www.lrwf.org, I have my emails and phone number on there so depending on what time of year it is, we have projects going on. We always have opportunities for kids to get involved, whether it’s a drive or whether it’s directly working with projects, we have a need and there is always something going on so I would encourage them to go there. You know, have their parents send me an email or give me a call, or whatever.
Gen- Ok, thanks! What inspires you?
Zach- Well, it started back during hurricane Charlie. We were supposed to originally be hit by the hurricane but we didn’t so I started gathering all of these water supplies that we didn’t need because there were thousands of people who didn’t have anything and really needed it. For me it was really simple, you know, donating water we already had and after that it grew to my neighborhood and then grew more and more. I really felt for the homeless and homelessness imparticular, and from there it just kept growing.
Gen- So, what is it like to meet the kids you have helped?
Zach- it’s always an incredible feeling to be, well- typically when we meet these kids and people they are in these horrible situations and it’s always really sad to see that but beyond that it is really amazing to stay in touch with them through the program and when they eventually go to college or get a job. It’s amazing to see these stories about where they start out to these successful individuals. It’s amazing.
Gen- What was the most touching moment when you walked across the country?
Zach- One of my favorite things about the walk was that in each city we walked through, we tried to do something to work with a local organization and it was really cool because we got so many different kids. Each one of their stories really touched me, it was really kind of surreal. it was incredible and it really inspired me to do even more for these kids.
Gen- What are your goals for the foundation in the next five years?
Zach- Well, we are actually putting together a huge resource center here in Florida where kids can come and hang out, eat. We’ll serve food and they can use computers and stuff like that. It’s really kind of a stepping stone for other programs within the community and we’re hoping to get that up and running in the next year or two. We are really excited about that. And then we are hoping it will be really successful here and we’ll be able to branch out all across North America and build up these programs. We are really excited about that. And of course, we are really excited about the release of the movie, every single Wal Mart across the US is carrying it and we are really proud of that.
M- So, I have a quick question if you don’t mind. I noticed that, during the credits of the film, there is a photo of you and Elton John. How did that come about?
Zach- Well, Elton John is probably one of our biggest supporters. We actually met before my first walk, and our relationship just kept growing and growing from there. He ended up, for my walk to Georgia, he offered $25,000 to the foundation if I made it and then for the walk across America he offered us $50,000 if I made it. Honestly, he’s just been really great in supporting the foundation. He’s just been incredible.
M- How did he hear about you originally?
Zach- We used to, whenever an artist would come in to town, we would contact their management or record label and ask for an autographed item or picture and then we’d take that up on Ebay in order to raise money for the foundation.Originally we were supposed to meet with Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones, my mom was organizing it and then she found out it couldn’t happen but the label said “What about Elton John instead?” and I was really excited! I’ve loved his music pretty much forever and so, you know, it was just a meet and greet but it was pretty great. Then later we were at another event for something else and he was there and he saw us in the crowd and he had us taken over to where he was at, which was cool. Since then it just kept growing and growing.
M- So, do you have any other walks planned or are you mostly focused on establishing the center for now?
Zach- Mostly the center, but one other thing we are looking at is establishing some sort of branches or clubs in schools across the country and different communities. We’re really excited about that but it’s just a matter of finding the right kids to work with and put it together. We’re also working on publicity for the movie but really our main priority from this point is the youth resource center. I’ve been wanting to do it for years now and it’s finally to the point where we are really close.
There was a bit of other chit chat, (yes, i got a bit hung up on the Elton John thing. Poor Genny was morified that I even brought it up. Oh to be 13 again…) and we said our goodbyes- but really, what a great kid.
This is the part where I BEG you to go buy the movie and watch it.
Had you heard of the Little Red Wagon foundation? What do you think of Zach’s story?