CBS EYEWITNESS NEWS (WPRI PROVIDENCE)
This week on Street Stories, John and I will take anyone who’s willing on the road to life.
The story begins with a high school wrestler who’s about to be pinned.
“Come on Andrew!” you hear someone from the crowd scream.
Moments later, Andrew Dunham does a reversal, tossing his opponent on his back. Andrew, now a state champion, was close to pinned in life only a few years ago.
“I’m sure we’re going to learn a lot about each other during this whole trip,” a younger Andrew says during a video from the ultimate road trip that he took a few years ago.
“You get a sense of belonging to a family,” he tells us.
Andrew never met his father and his mother wasn’t around long either. He says his aunt did her best to raise him and his little brother.
“I was the guy police officers were after.”
The training school became his home when he was 13.
“I was a fire bug.”
But then, his little brother set the match.
“And caught the apartment on fire and that’s when I broke down and cried. And I cried for days. That’s when I realized I had to change.”
The change started in a NAFI group home with a program called Road To Life that takes city kids who rarely if ever went on family vacations, to the nation’s treasures.
“I just never pictured myself seeing Mount Rushmore. It was just an incredible feeling.”
Flash to scenes from that video; Old Faithful…The Grand Canyon. . .roaming buffalo.
“There’s a whole pack of wolves over there,” a teen from the trip whispers to the camera.
“You see things you’ve never seen before,” Andrew tells us. “I think it’s something that every person deserves to experience.”
Andrew, the state champion wrestler who fought his way back is now heading into the Marines.
“And I’m looking forward to actually, once I go through boot camp, going back and apologizing to the police officers. Because I feel it’s the right thing to do.”
He’s a role model for freshman like Kyle who went from quitting school to the honor roll.
“I just felt like, wow! This could be right in front of me. This could be the next step but I was able to pull myself out of it.”
Kyle will be in the next carload of kids on the Road To Life.
“That they probably wouldn’t get to see in their lifetime,” Kyle tells us.
“Thank you once again,” a younger Andrew tells us in the video tape, years before the wrestling match or his decision to join the Marines. “For letting us have this opportunity. I just want to say God Bless us all.”
So far, Road To Life has helped dozens. Organizers say there’s a need to help thousands. To find out more, you can hit this link.
And take a look at the video version of this Street Story.