All that music waiting inside . . .
In 1998, I was living in Denver. I was dealing with the most post-break-up pain I had ever imposed on myself. I used to go out dancing at nightclubs a lot during this period of my life. I was at a club one night and I saw a short Latin dude surrounded by lovely ladies in a shirt that said HERO in big block letters. I walked over to him and asked him where he got the shirt because the word really resonated with me as I considered my closest friends HEROES to me.
He answered (with much animation and hand gesturing) "YO Man! You better LOSE that zero and get with a HERO!!! I make these shirts."
I asked "How many do you have in your house right now?"
"12 or 14 of them."
I said "I'll buy them all from you tomorrow."
So I bought 13 HERO shirts from him the next day. I kept 2 for myself immediately calling it my end of a Run shirt that I would wear on the last Show of every Run. I felt an increased level of confidence wearing this shirt because I knew that I still had HEROic traits hidden under the heart-break chaos I was feeling.
So I made a list of the 11 friends that I wanted to give the other 11 HERO shirts to. Almost all of these folks were my Breckenridge, Colorado friends that taught me how to enjoy my life on a daily basis. They taught me about the Grateful Dead and changed my life forever in one moment, when I realized that dancing was for me, not just to get the girl.
I wrote a card for each of these friends listing 3 or 4 things that I found remarkable about them, and finished the card by writing "That makes you a HERO to me!" Then I folded the shirts so that only the HERO showed when they opened the gift. The process felt great to me, and my friends LOVED the shirts. So that was it with the HERO shirts for a very long time.
But then in 2014 at Panic en la Playa TRES, a 4 day Widespread Panic Run in the Dominican Republic, my friend LoLo looked at me in my HERO shirt and said "Where the hell is MY HERO shirt?!? I've been telling you I Loved that shirt for years now. The only time I get to wear one is when I steal one from Zuka or Smokey!"
And a light bulb went off in my head with that question as I realized that I wanted to give out more HERO shirts...A LOT more HERO shirts. So I went home and ordered 30 of them from my childhood friend. That was the 2nd generation of HERO shirts. I'm now giving out the 6th generation of them, and I've given out about 175 of them so far.
This is one of my favorite activities ever. It makes me feel great to write the card and go through the whole process for people that inspire me. And I’m told that it feels good to receive the HERO shirts as well.
Everybody turns HERO, just for one day!