Mantua – A rainy Monday morning was transformed into into a day full of promise when Alex Sheen spoke to students and staff at the Crestwood High School and Crestwood Middle School. Sheen founded the social movement and nonprofit organization because I said I would.
Through because I said I would, individuals use promise cards to record and remember the importance of keeping their word, for promises both big and small. Although it’s just a simple piece of paper, promise cards have motivated people to stick with their commitments to better humanity. From a young girl’s promise to make friends with kids who sit alone at her school lunchroom, to a man’s promise to donate blood regularly, promise cards serve to remind people of the importance of commitments and goals.
The idea began at Sheen’s father Al’s funeral. When Alex delivered his dad’s eulogy, he reflected on the life of his dad, someone he admitted was an “average, everyday dude.” He acknowledged that to most people, his dad was unnoticeable in his role as pharmacist, devoted husband and dad. As Alex reflected further, he realized that his dad’s biggest strength was that he was a man of his word. That was three years ago, when the first because I said so cards were handed out at the funeral. Since then, promise cards have been offered through his website, becauseisaidiwould.com, at no cost. Since then, the organization has sent over 3.15 million promise cards to over 153 different countries by request only.
Here’s how it works. Simply write a promise or commitment on a card — it may be something you’ve been putting off, a promise to yourself or to another person. Then give the card to the person you’ve made the promise to. When you’ve fulfilled the promise, and shown that you’re a person of your word, they return the card to you. This week, students at both CHS and CMS will receive ten promise cards of their own. Just what will they write?
Seventh grader Elaine shared, “I’ll always be there for my team and my friends, to help them be the best they can be.” Her classmate Jasmyn shared, “I realize that I take a lot of stuff for granted. I promise to keep all those little moments, the good things, in mind to help through the hard times.” Another classmate, Makensie, shared, “I want to find my (adopted) brother’s real mom, because I know it’s important to him.”
Matthew Cordle, a young man from Columbus, made a promise of his own. You may remember Cordle from the news reports. He made headlines in 2013, when he admitted, through his video filmed by because I said so, that he caused the death of Vincent Canzani in a drunk driving crash. In his video, he shared that if he “took a different route,” he could possibly have received a reduced sentence or avoided jail time altogether for his actions. Instead, he made a promise to take full responsibility for the crime. Matthew contacted because I said I would on Facebook, wanting to better humanity by sharing his life-changing story. The organization agreed to film and post his confession video to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. Because I said I would estimates that over 100 million people have viewed Matthew’s videotaped message. Because he kept his promise, Cordle, now 25, is in jail serving the remainder of his six and a half year sentence for that crime. At the close of Alex’s presentation at the High School, he shared Cordle’s message with students and staff, and the impact was palpable. Alex explained, “Although I don’t share this message with middle school students,” referring to Cordle’s personal experience with drunk driving, “we can’t be so naïve to believe that high school kids aren’t doing it.”
At the Middle School, Sheen shared, “This isn’t just about me, or about my dad. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Each and every one of us is born with the ability to change the world.” At the end of his presentation, Sheen suggested students visit his website, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook page to share their promises. “But at the end of the day, none of that really matters. I just want you to keep your promises. Because your parents and teachers can’t defend your honor — only you can.”
Students took to their feet, giving him a standing ovation. It appears they heard his message loud and clear. Seventh grader Elaine acknowledged, “He inspired me to be a better person.” Eighth graders Owen and Sean waited in line to shake Sheen’s hand and pose for a photo with him after his presentation. “It’s really cool what he does, — it was inspiring,” they agreed. Sheen’s positive message his elevated him near rock star status, at least at Crestwood Middle School.
Middle School Principal Julie Schmidt marveled, “It was amazing to see 450 students sit perfectly silent and completely engaged in his message.” The impact of the morning’s presentation will become more apparent as time progresses. Schmidt shared that each student would receive ten promise cards. At school, a banner will be posted, giving them the opportunity to post their promises to encourage accountability. To reinforce the message, inspirational because I said I would videos will be offered on Fridays, when Schmitt regularly shares inspirational videos with students.
Earlier this month, in honor of the third anniversary of his father’s death, Sheen announced that the organization has begun fundraising efforts to form local chapters around the world. Each chapter, called an Echo, will serve as a force for good in the region, encouraging people to make and keep promises and work to support local causes in their community. Sheen’s goal is coming true due in part to his hard work and the work of those at his organization, but mostly because he said he would.
To learn more about because I said I would and its mission, visit becauseisaidiwould.com.