With gangs a growing problem in every community, one man is trying to help. His name is Buddy Shannon and he is president of Real Men-Real Heroes. Last week he received an award from Diversity Kansas for his work. It wasn’t his first award and it probably won’t be his last.
“You want to be a gangster huh?
Buddy Shannon has been down this road.
“This is a wake-up call for some of you.”
“I just tell them my story.”
His life could have taken him to mean streets.
“I was messed up.”
But choices were made.
“Most of my friends carried guns.”
“I want them to know that there is a group of guys called real men, real heroes, who will help them reach their potential.”
“I want you to raise your hands – how many of you know someone who has been killed by gang violence?”
“That’s a lot!”
“Wichita, Kansas is ranked fourth in the United States of America for black on black homicides.”
“There are three things that I want you to think about as we talk about your future.”
Now, as President of Real Men, Real Heroes, he shares his story to at-risk teens.
“We believe that once you young men and women see what a real man looks like, then you’ll be able to identify them.”
Encouraging them, sometimes pleading with them to give up gangs, to make education a priority.
“I’m asking you to be the best that you can be.”
“And we found that ‘hope’ has no color. Children respond to hope, whether they be black, white, Hispanic or Asian.”
Not only has Buddy been recognized locally for his work, he’s also received national attention from this man. The President came to Wichita last year and one item on his mind was giving Buddy the Presidential Call to Service Award on behalf of Real Men, Real Heroes for his work in mentoring teens.
“He told me that he is proud of me. And he told me we were doing good work – Real Men/Real Heroes. I said something to him and he reached back and gave me ‘five’. A lot of people wondered what I said to him. Well, I’m going to keep that as a secret.”
“We can’t stop. We are going to do everything we can to be a buffer. We see these kids and we often think they are animals, criminals. But really they are just kids who need someone to tell them you don’t have to live this way.”
Buddy is employed at Tree Top Nursery & Landscaping where the upcoming spring days are always a busy time. But it is planting seeds in young minds, that is where he sees his real mission.
“And we were successful, because we made a decision that we did not want to go down the path that we had been on.”
“Maybe I can say something to ignite hope in their lives that won’t place them in the penitentiary some day.”
Larry's Note: For more information on Real Men/Real Heroes or if you would like to join the organization, information is available by clicking on the website link below.