I know this has been a tough year for many people for a lot of reasons. It’s been a divisive year. It’s been a year of anger and strife.

But, it’s our choice how we face each day.

As I sit here writing this Christmas message, I want to wish my friends, family and team members peace. And, for those that don’t celebrate Christmas as I do, because you’re of another faith or background, I want to wish you brotherhood.

As I reflect on the year, I realize I’m fortunate.

You are too.

Realize how much you have.

I know times may be tough. I know you might not have everything you want or even need. But, you’re still here, and if you’re still breathing, buddy, there’s always hope.

Robert’s Story

In my mind, as I write my message I think of a young 10-year-old boy by the name of Robert Hinton. In my line of work as a social entrepreneur, I’m fortunate each and every day to be inspired by the stories of people all around the world.

Take a minute to let me share with you Robert’s story. Robert comes from a large family. He’s got seven brothers and sisters, two parents and his oldest sister is married with an 18-month old son. What’s really awesome about this family is that despite the fact that it’s a large family, they’re really close-knit.

I came to learn about Robert and his family when his family did a shoe drive fundraiser with us. They needed to raise money for two weeks of travel for the entire family out of the state to get Robert his new service dog.

Robert has what’s called intractable epilepsy and it’s very dangerous. In the last three years, this young boy’s been in a medically induced coma and ventilator five times. This is necessary, because during these times, Robert has continued to seize – never regaining consciousness. So placing him in a medically induced coma and ventilator helps to cool Robert’s brain and stops the seizures.

Needless to say, Robert lives a life in the unknown. He has to be accompanied 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He is never alone, including when he showers and especially when he sleeps. It turns out that the night is an especially dangerous time and he has to have constant supervision.

4 Paws for Ability

Robert and his family decided to get him a seizure alert dog. This type of dog is specially trained by an amazing organization called 4 Paws for Ability, which places task-trained service dogs with children and our U.S. military veterans. In Robert’s case, a service dog that can detect an oncoming seizure even before it happens, provides Robert and his family advance notice so he can get the proper care immediately.

Robert and his family are spending their time this holiday season with his new service dog after having successfully completed a shoe drive fundraiser to raise the required money they needed for their travels.

Today, I think of Robert and all of the people and stories I’ve heard this year of children and families who are doing whatever it takes to move forward in a loving and caring way. For young Robert, his new service dog is life-changing because it gives him a degree of independence (and confidence), which he has never been able to have until now due to his disease. The hope is that someday soon Robert will be able to sleep alone in his room with his life-saving companion by his side.

This holiday, think of someone like Robert in your own life. I’m sure you know of someone in your life who needs a kind word, a hug or just a smile. And remember something important this holiday season, we’re all doing the best we can. No more and no less.

Be good and kind to each other.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download) 

© 2016 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.