Mr. President — I am forever indebted to you. I am a better man. Thank you.
I, too, was a skinny guy with big ears. Most people didn’t take me seriously or think that I’d amount to much. I was barely able to support myself on the money I was making, and had no degree. I grew up in a red area of Bucks County, PA and my opinions on political and social issues were often met my laughter from my friends. I was a blue collar boy, and the people I was surrounded by thought that my outlook on things was just downright ridiculous…too lofty, too unrealistic. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they had convinced me that I was living in a fantasy world.
When you announced your run I highly doubted you would make it very far, but I agreed so strongly with your message. I quietly supported you at first, not willing to commit fully for fear of disappointment. But, for the first time ever, I found myself wanting to get involved in a campaign. I tip-toed at first- you know, just put one toe in the water to see what it was like. I signed up on the website for notifications and followed what was going on from the comfort of my living room. (Let me be honest…from the comfort of my grandparents basement, where I was living, because, like I said, I could barely support myself.)
I got up the nerve to visit the open house when the primary office opened in Doylestown, PA. I figured I would go pick up some literature. I walked into a room full of people and Patrick Murphy was in the middle of giving a speech. My nerves almost got the best of me and I was ready to dart out of there. But I pushed through the nerves enough to find the farthest corner I could find. After the speech I was approached by Peachy Myers, who had put the open house together. She was asking if I would volunteer.
“No freakin’ way,” I thought.
Peachy, as we all learned to do, shared her story. How she had never been involved with anything like this either. Eventually I agreed to drive around and pick up donated furniture. And once we had filled up the office I felt so good about myself. That’s when Peachy asked, “You ready to make calls?”
Long story short, I ended up spending every minute I could campaigning. Family members helped pay my bills as a way of supporting the campaign. I walked away from my business for a year. I didn’t sleep, barely ate, and just couldn’t get enough of getting first time volunteers over that hump to knock doors and make calls. I found abilities within myself that I never knew existed. I became great friends with another OFA member, Joel Stopka, who had been traveling state to state. Together, we had developed a strategy for operating a staging location, but he went to Charlotte, NC prior to GOTV. I was so proud of that first location- a little ice cream shop that had 35 volunteers show up to take packets out and knock doors.
After the PA primary Joel begged me to keep going. He asked for me to come to Charlotte to be a field organizer with him and put our staging location strategy together on a much larger scale. I’m so happy I did. Over 450 people ended up walking through that location on primary election day. I had never been more proud of anything in my life, or more honored to had been part of such an amazing movement. That staging location strategy was eventually used as a model in many states during the general, and I spent a lot of time working with friends throughout the country to get it implemented.
The abilities that all of us discovered about ourselves will live on the rest of our lives. I am brought to tears when I see how so many brilliant people have put those skills to work in their careers. But there is one thing that the campaign brought me that very few can claim. The campaign is where I met my wife, Jasmine. We had only talked a few times in the campaign office but I was crazy about her. You came to a town hall meeting one day. Luckily, I was the person in charge of seating everyone. I was fortunate enough to be able to strategically place her directly next to me. After that day I knew I wanted to marry this girl. Jasmine, however, she wasn’t ready to give me so much as a date. She had a six month old daughter. (And remember, I couldn’t even support myself) When she finally called and agreed to a date I was on my way down to NC.
I did get that date when I returned from NC. We were married 6 months later- just eleven days after you were elected. Our son was born 6 months after that — 4 months after you were sworn in. And within one year I went from being completely single with no promising future, to married and supporting a family of four. I know work for a fortune 50 company. We raise our kids and conduct our lives on the principles that guided the campaign. We are blessed to have you and Michelle as examples to look up to. We are forever transformed, and our children forever aware of the power that hope in action can do.
You are more than the President to so many of us. You are father figure, a mentor, a role model, and in some sort of way, a friend. We mean it in every sense of the words when we say, “We Love You.”
You have made me a better citizen, a better man, a better father, and a better husband. I thank you for that. You have always lead us with dignity and grace, and set a compassionate example for us to follow. Joe said it best when he said that you have invaded my heart and you now occupy a place in it. I couldn’t agree more.
I am forever indebted to you. I (we) will forever miss you as our President, but you will forever be our leader. I am looking forward to the next chapters that we will all write together.
Thank you Mr. President,