Alex Sheen explains the power of keeping promises

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Photo by Maricel Evangelista

We don’t need a miracle, we just need people to do what they said they were going to do in the first place, said Alex Sheen, founder of the social movement and non-profit organization called Because I Said I Would, to an audience in the Grande Ballroom, Aug 31.

Because I Said I Would started as an accident, according to Sheen. When his father passed away of small-cell lung cancer in September 2012, Sheen was asked to give a eulogy. According to Sheen, his father was a simple man but treated his promises with honor. On that day, Sheen gave out the first of many promise cards.

The organization is “dedicated to the betterment of humanity,” Sheen said. The mission is to encourage people to make and keep their promises. The promise cards are a symbol of those promises.

Sheen shared a series of stories that followed the act of writing a simple promise card. One is the story about Garth Callahan. He started writing his daughter notes on napkins that were placed in her school lunch. These notes were anything from silly to inspirational. When his daughter, Emma, reached the eighth grade her father was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the kidney. Through this tragic news, Callahan chose to write a promise card.

Callahan wrote, “I will write 826 napkin notes for Emma,” one napkin note for everyday of school from now until she graduates from high school.

Small stacks of promise cards were left on each chair in the Grande Ballroom with the phrase, “because I said I would.” The audience was asked to fill a card with a small or large promise to give to someone or keep for yourself. After you make a promise, you deliver the card to the person you are making the promise to, according to Sheen. After you have fulfilled the promise, you get the card back.

According to Sheen and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 75.1% of Americans have never volunteered for a single hour in an entire year. Sheen views this number as an opportunity to serve the community.

Because I Said I Would has started chapters in four different cities, and they are starting high school clubs in the next year. These chapters include character improvement education classes.

Cassie Maxwell, a special education student, wrote a promise card. She is in physical therapy after tearing her achilles tendon, and her promise is, “do my pt [physical therapy] everyday, no excuses.”