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September 30, 2014

High School Graduation

If you follow GOAT on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you may have seen this back in May. But we’re excited about it, and we want to show you again (or if you missed it, we want you to see it)

Three years ago we took a shy young man on a backpacking trip. He didn’t know anything about GOAT, he had never been camping or backpacking, but he knew right away that he liked it. Christian was quiet at first. He didn’t talk a whole lot, and honestly we didn’t get to know him incredibly well. The next summer he showed up again. And he remembered every detail from the year before. Where we went, what we did, who said what.

After that summer we invited Christian to be a part of a small group of guys that eventually became our Adventure Team program. Every Monday night Christian, and his brother Dion, would join us at GOAT for climbing, dinner and conversations about who this Jesus guy was and what he did for us. It was a fun time in the life of GOAT and we got to spend a lot of time getting to know Christian and his family.

Christian lives at home with his mother, his brother and their three nieces and nephews. Their dad is in another state and has been in and out of prison over the years. Christian and his brother do what they can to help their mother with the kids, and as you can imagine she’s a very busy lady getting herself and the five of them where they need to be. Statistically Christian would never make it to high school graduation. Statistically he should drop out, maybe get a part-time job and end up in a generational cycle of poverty. Statistically he should end up incarcerated at some point, or worse. Graduating from high school doesn’t always sound that important, but the statistics are staggering. For one, students who drop out of high school are 63 times more likely to become incarcerated. Yes, 63 times. They also make almost $300,000 less than high school graduations over the lifetime, they commit 75% of all crime in America, and collectively they cost taxpayers over $300 billion each year. So yes, high school graduation is a big deal.

As Christian grew older, he started playing a lot of baseball. That meant we saw him less, but his brother was still around, and we still stayed in touch with him. In May Christian was supposed to graduate from high school, against the odds. While we were out training interns one day in May, a couple of our staff members got a text message. There was no content, just a proud picture. A picture of a high school diploma. With Christian’s name on it.

We couldn’t have been more excited. We called him to congratulate him. We saw him that week and he was beaming. Christian has since enlisted in the United States Air Force and will be leaving Greenville soon to be an aircraft mechanic. We’re proud of you, Christian!

This isn’t a story about GOAT. This is a story about hope. A story about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how following Jesus compels of to love each other in an extraordinary way. A story about how a simple relationship can help change a life’s trajectory.

If you give to GOAT – you are a part of this story. You are a part of helping Christian succeed. This never would have happened without each and every one of you, and for that we’re forever grateful.

If you want to be a part of this story, we would love to have you as a part of our team. Learn more about GOAT, our kids and how you can change lives through The TribeĀ