Pahokee, the small town on the banks of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, is considered one of the poorest in the United States. Overrun by drugs, crime and poverty, Palm Beach County reports one-half of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have been convicted of a felony. In Pahokee, the average family earns about $34,000 and the unofficial unemployment rate is 40 percent. According to Bryan Mealer, author of the book Muck City, families resort to catching rainwater to survive because their utilities have been cut off. It is a place where depression begets desperation.
Tim Howard is hard to miss – on and off the field. The 6-3, 210-pound goalkeeper for the 2014 FIFA World Cup U.S. national team, sports a full, dark beard, menacing brown eyes, a shaved head and an upper torso littered with tattoos. His first body ink came at 16 years old: a Superman symbol branded on his right bicep. Since then, he’s lost count of just how many tattoos now blanket his upper body, but who’s counting anyway? Let’s just say over the past two decades his frame has become a work of art.
Robert E. Lee Hall towers over the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly campground on Black Mountain, North Carolina. Eight majestic white columns buoy the entrance that is fronted by eight long, wide steps ascending to the wooden platform porch where dozens of green wooden rocking chairs are spread out across the deck.
Draped in red, white and blue, Jordan Burroughs clutched the American flag and scanned the crowd looking for his mother amongst the fans that filled box seats at ExCel Exhibition Centre in London. The moment he spotted her, he jumped the barrier and raced into the crowd. Burroughs and his mother embraced in celebration. At age 24 his dream came true: Jordan Ernest Burroughs was an Olympic gold medal winner.
Maddy Jackson can still smell Ethiopia.
“Every once in a while I catch a whiff and it takes me back; like diesel, donkeys and, believe it or not, body odor,” she said. “It just hits you as soon as you step off the plane.”
A small army of Charleston Southern University students poured out of a van and huddled along a cold, damp street in New York. Behind the hoodies and orange ski caps were rosy noses atop smiling pink and purple lips shivering in the December morning air.
When Mike Sanfratello steps off the plane he starts with a prayer. “Lord, help me to get out of the way …” he whispers as his feet move quickly through the airport terminal in Utah. “Let me find you here and let me join you in it.”
Ashleigh Dockery’s braided ponytail hangs off her left shoulder. You can tell by her youthful green eyes, soft-spoken tone and petite, peaceful manner, she was born and raised in the South. But don’t let her Southern Charm fool you; she enjoys a challenge, which probably explains her passion for crime. Dockery is the perfect law enforcement foil.
In early May, James Mangini will leave his home in Hanahan, South Carolina, and begin running eight and 10 hours a day. Not on smooth cement sidewalks and highways, but on gravel, dirt, grass, and on byways, secondary roads, through small towns, across nine states, 1,000 miles in 30 days, until he reaches his destination: The Michael J. Fox Foundation in New York City.
Take a moment; let that sink in.
Jonathan Davis moved to Charleston, South Carolina’s Lowcountry in May 1991, three months before his contract began as an assistant football coach at Charleston Southern University. He lived alone and worked for no pay — his wife, Lynette, left behind in New Jersey, working to support both of them — to pursue his dream in the competitive world of college athletics.