Friday, September 12, 2014

Long Live Paul Walker!

Today is Paul Walker's 41st birthday. This is a story of how I was inspired by the real man behind his Hollywood myth. This is a small tribute to Paul Walker. 

In early March 2010 I found myself in Curanipe, Chile, leading a disaster relief mission after the mega-earthquake and tsunamis that devastated the region. While I was traveling to the disaster's epicenter, a group of doctors and emergency responders in California emailed me and asked to be guided to the hardest-hit region.

Without knowing anything more about them, I agreed to meet them in Chile.  I was skeptical that a group of gringo strangers would even make it into the country, let alone find me in the disaster zone, but they claimed to be "a group of do-gooders" and we were desperate for help.

Martial law in ConstituciĆ³n, Chile, March 2010. Photo: Luca Wimer.

Five days later, I'm standing in a shuttered hostel in Curanipe. Our small group of relief workers has taken over the hostel and we are in crisis work mode -- exhausted and inspired and working 18-hour days for the task at hand. Thousands of people in the region are homeless, without running water, and in need of medical attention.

A familiar face walks into the room, a tall handsome California guy in military cargo pants and a grimy t-shirt. My mind races and I think quietly to myself, "I know this guy! I've met him before! Who is he? Where have we met?" It takes me a minute to realize... "No! It's that actor from Lost... No, wait, it's some other famous actor. What's his name..? What the heck is he doing here...?" 

We shake hands and start talking logistics of what is needed in the tsunami disaster zone. This famous actor -- whose name I still couldn't recall and whose movies I still couldn't place -- starts offering expert support for anyone that will listen to his doctors, paramedics, firefighters and tons of medical supplies.

It turns out this guy is Paul Walker, and we work side-by-side for the next 7 days with a group of amazing, selfless individuals -- helping everyone we can in the tsunami disaster zone.

I quickly learn that Paul is a thoroughly human and humble individual dedicated to traveling to the planet's hardest-hit natural disaster areas to help. His organization is called Reach Out WorldWide. They provide a pillar of support to people in their darkest hour who have lost everything.

Paul Walker with Reach Out WorldWide in Chile. Photo: Lucas Wimer.

In Chile we work with the Chilean Army, support mobile health clinics, mayors, psychologists, school teachers, hungry survivors, shell-shocked families, journalists and children. We clear rubble, build shelters, distribute free medicine and set up clean water systems for over 10,000 survivors.

Paul Walker is a very good man, an enlightened soul who used his success to help others without any expectations, other than goodwill and a strong heart.

Rest in Peace and thank you for being an inspiration to us all.

Visit Reach Out WorldWide and support their epic mission to help humanity. Long live Paul Walker! 

ROWW and Save The Waves in Chile. Photo: Lucas Wimer.