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Special: Consider This....
Written by Mark Darnell   
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

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I do not normally put my columns on the website but I have had a story that I wanted to pass along for quite a while, but haven’t had the opportunity. If it doesn’t stir some type of thought or action, well I’ll pray for you.


How many of us have ever wondered about the significance of our actions? What difference will this one little thing mean to someone, if anyone? Have you ever had a dream? Have you given the dream enough space to grow and energy to succeed? Have you seen a dream fulfilled for someone?

I want to tell you a remarkable story about a 9 year old boy who had a dream. His name is Brenden Hass, from Kingston Massachusetts, and all he wanted was to do something meaningful for a soldier. You might say he developed his dream. He wanted to give away an all inclusive trip to Disneyland to a family of a fallen soldier. No small task for someone to fit in with all their third grade homework.

Brenden and his family saw a story about someone who traded a paperclip for a house and it sparked an idea. Brenden decided that he would try and trade his little green army men (I remember playing with mine all the time) to try and make this “Dream” happen. So his family cast a wide net, both in their community, family and friends, and in the social media.

His very first trade was a green toy soldier for a $ 50 Wal-Mart Gift card and took place on February 16th, 2012. The gift card became a life-like NASCAR Turbo Stocker Race-Car Track. The Speedway became an overnight Spa outing in Vermont. The spa outing turned into a pair of Red Sox tickets and somewhere along the line people started donating things. The Britt family decided that they would trade their 7 day/6 night time share vacation in the Disney Villas for two green army men. Somebody else must have donated airline tickets and tickets to the theme park. The Red Sox tickets turned into a 3 day snowmobile adventure weekend which eventually turned into almost $ 900 worth of Disney Gift certificates. From one young man’s toy green army men he now had a 7 day stay, with airfare, park admission, and almost $ 900 worth of vouchers to Disneyland to give away to the family of a fallen soldier.

His name was 1LT Timothy Steele. His family lived in Duxbury Massachusetts and he attended the United States Military Academy, graduating in 2009, and was commissioned an infantry officer and assigned to Ft. Drum to the 10th Mountain Division. On August 23rd, 2011 his unit was attacked by insurgents using improved explosive devices in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. He passed away leaving behind his parents and siblings, a wife, and a 2 year little girl. He was only 25 at the time of his death.

Brenden completed his trading and on Memorial Day 2012 drew the name of Liberty Steele out of a hat, 1LT Steele’s two year old daughter. Brenden and his family made arrangements to visit with 1LT Steele’s parents and fulfill his dream on that special day.  Not bad for the imagination and vision of a 9 year old boy with some very common toy soldiers.

Brenden Hass has shown us all that with hard work and a little kindness from strangers; a dream is never too big. When he was featured on “Good Morning America” following his give-a-way, Disney and ABC wanted to give Brenden’s family a week-long VIP vacation as well. He politely declined and said that he had many other deserving families that he wished to send. He later remarked that he wasn’t surprised that he could make the trades work, just surprised that it happened so fast. Too bad the rest of the world cannot follow the example of this exceptional 9 year old boy.

Brenden has a new project. He is bartering more of his toy green army men into a house and land to give to the family of a deceased soldier. The Armed Forces Foundation has already signed on to help and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is raising money to move and reassemble a solar house donated by their students. For more information about Brenden go to http://www.indiegogo.com/SupportAFF and donate or you can learn more on Facebook by looking up “A Soldier for a Soldier.”

If you are going to be a bear, be a Grizzly!

So consider this, never stop dreaming. Believe that you make something happen and try to work hard to make it a reality. Your individual actions have meaning and can impact people in ways you sometimes never even know, imagine, or understand.