Shamrockin’ for a Cure

Posted by Ne[x]t on 01.29.14

On March 8, 2014, Georgia’s Own Credit Union will present ShamRockin’ for a Cure to raise money to help cure Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  CF is a chronic, progressive and life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of approximately 30,000 children and young adults in the United States.  We spoke recently to Mary and Chris Guiney, who founded ShamRockin’ for a Cure in 2009.

i[x]: Tell us a little about ShamRockin’ for a Cure:
SR: ShamRockin’ for a Cure, is a St. Patrick’s Day party hosted by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, whose mission is to help fund controls and ultimately a cure for cystic fibrosis.  We like to say we’re taking the “d” out of fun”d”raising – we’re making it fun!  ShamRockin’ for a Cure is a unique FUNraiser, where attendees, all of whom must be 21 or over, get to rock out from the stage at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta.  Tickets include food from some of the best restaurants in Metro Atlanta, spirits, and an incredible live band.  And you get to wear jeans and embody the true St. Patty’s Day spirit from crazy green shirts,  green beads, silly green hats, green blinky rings, green wigs, fake green mustaches, green lipstick – all while raising as much green as possible for an important cause. Have fun and help people?  That’s what ShamRockin’ is all about!

i[x]: When and how was ShamRockin’ for a Cure founded?
SR: ShamRockin’ for a Cure was a grassroots effort founded in 2009 by a group of friends of the Bakers, a Roswell family who have 2 children with cystic fibrosis.  We realized that we needed to do something to help the Baker’s fight for their boys and we wanted to be part of finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.  As the group celebrated one New Year’s Day, we asked ourselves, “how can we help and what are we good at?”  We had a house full of people, each with their own unique potential to participate in building a successful fundraising event and each with the desire to make a difference. ShamRockin’ for a Cure was born out of that desire to help, to leverage the brain power in our network and have a great time doing it. We started out friends, became FUNraisers and now consider ourselves an Army, battling to bring an end to this fatal disease.  BE PART OF A CURE!

i[x]: Can you tell us about the Baker boys, Gavin and Jake, and how they deal with CF on a daily basis?
SR: Gavin and Jake.  Where to begin!?!  They are great kids, with enormous potential.  Gavin, age 14, is a state champion wakeboarder – it is so much fun to watch that kid wakeboard!  I have a video of him jumping over my 10 yr old on a kneeboard – about 15 feet in the air!  But it’s tough to get him out on the water before all the boat traffic picks up, because he first has to do about an hour of breathing treatments, take about 30 pills and eat over 1500 calories – and that’s just breakfast!  We always have to be mindful and get home in time for him to eat round 2 of the 4500 calories he needs to consume every day, just to maintain.  Kids with CF only absorb a fraction of what the rest of us do – and that’s done with the help of special enzymes that help them absorb nutrients that they have to take with everything they eat, including snacks.  A child living with CF is typically much smaller than the rest of the kids their age.

Don’t even get me started on his brother, Jake, age 11.  Jake is intelligent, funny, and has one of the most compassionate hearts.  Sadly, Jake has a harder time keeping a healthy weight.  He’s just not that into eating.  His parents have tried everything – cheese eating contests, hot dog eating races, a lifetime supply of sausage on a stick (you know, the kind wrapped in pancakes), eating for video game playing time, eating for money, eating because it could mean the difference between life and death.  To no avail.  So Jake has a feeding tube.  He gets about 2000 calories every night while he sleeps through a plastic tube surgically implanted in his belly.   And he has really filled in!  But he’s a kid with a piece of plastic sticking out of this belly.  When that thing falls out it means a direct path to his insides for all of the germs and bacteria that could be potentially fatal – not to you and me, but definitely to someone living with CF.

Jake spent two weeks in the hospital this fall for a “tune up” because his lung function is much lower than his doctors would like.  He’s just not that into breathing treatments either.  It’s called being 100% compliant, and I think he wonders what will really happen if he’s not?  What will really happen is that his lungs will fail, he’ll need a lung transplant that may or may not make any difference, and that may or may not happen in time to save his life.

All of this is especially scary every winter when cold & flu season rolls around.  A cold that would be a 10 day inconvenience to us could turn into something deadly for Gavin and Jake, especially if their lung function is compromised.  Let’s raise so much money that Gavin and Jake get their miracle drug sooner rather than later. This is why we need people to BE PART OF A CURE!

i[x]:  To this date, how much has ShamRockin’ raised for CF?
SR: We were the very first non-concert event at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, with a modest beginning in 2009, 150 people raising about $10,000. ShamRockin’ for a Cure has become our symbol of strength and hope… and in just five short years, has raised over half a million dollars ($525,000 to be exact) for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

i[x]: What are the details for the 2014 ShamRockin’ event?
SR: ShamRockin’ for a Cure will be held on March 8, 2014 from the stage of the incredible Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, GA.  Tickets are $85 and include a Taste of ShamRockin’ style restaurant experience, spirits and an awesome live band. Doors open at 7pm and the celebration doesn’t stop until after midnight.  We have VIP suites on the stage – the only seating on the stage and a great way for corporations to entertain clients or friends to celebrate a birthday. Reserved Tables are available in the Orchestra Pit; we’re expecting about 1500 people, so this is always is a great option! More information about the event, sponsorship opportunities and ways to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation can be found at

i[x]: Where are the funds raised from the event donated?
SR: All proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) designated nonprofit and the world’s leader in the search for a cure for CF. Nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s support. The focus of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to support the development of new drugs to fight the disease, improve the quality of life for those with CF, and ultimately to find a cure. And it’s working!  In 2012, a game changing drug called Kalydeco became available for 4% of the CF community and is the first drug to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis. CF patients on Kalydeco are experiencing incredible results that include improved lung function, weight gain, and most importantly, the hope for a long future. Unfortunately, Gavin and Jake are not part of this 4%. It’s more critical than ever to get the researchers the funds they need, to push the next breakthrough before it’s too late for them. BE PART OF A CURE!!!

i[x]: For the people who may want to attend the event and aren’t from Alpharetta, I hear there are special hotel deals available?
SR: Yes!  We have partnered with the Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Northpoint, 10975 Georgia Lane, Alpharetta, GA 30022. Reservations can be made at (678) 566-3900, and there are special promo rates when you use the code ShamRockin.

i[x]: Are there other events that lead up to the main ShamRockin’ For A Cure event?
SR: Georgia’s Own Own Credit Union will be hosting fundraising events at a few of their branch locations, and we have lots of momentum building events and planning meetings at our restaurant sponsors around Alpharetta, Roswell, Cumming and Milton, including raffles to win a reserved table and tickets to the event, event t-shirts and other fun prizes.  Look to our website to find out more!

i[x]: What can our readers do to help out?
SR: Lots! First and foremost – Donate!

  •  Donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Dollars buy research and research buys time.  And the research is working!  BE PART OF A CURE!!
  • Attend the best party on the north side, enjoy a night out, bid on our fabulous live and silent auction offerings – eat, drink and cure CF!
  • Become a Corporate Sponsor and enjoy all the benefits that come with it!
  • Donate items to our auctions
  • Become part of the rockin’est planning committee in the FUNraising business!




Manny Ohonme – Samaritan’s Feet

Posted by Ne[x]t on 04.26.13

Three decades ago, on a hot summer afternoon at a camp in Lagos, Nigeria, a stranger from Wisconsin befriended a young African boy. This nine-year-old boy, like so many other children in Africa, had never known the comfort and security of owning a pair of shoes. This is the story of how that one gift not only transformed a life, but became a catalyst for an organization that provides “Shoes of Hope” for millions of needy children around the world.

i[x]   What was your life like as a child and teen growing up in Lagos, Nigeria?

MO  I lived in a 2-bedroom home with 7 siblings, my parents and several other family members. I had no bed of my own and slept on the floor. Like most kids growing up in West Africa my family lived on less than a dollar a day. I would pray every day for God to give me at least one meal. Maybe not breakfast or lunch, but please let me eat dinner. As a child, I took on chores to help the family earn money, so I grew up fast. 


i[x]   You received your first pair of shoes when you were nine years old. Can you tell us how you received those?

MO  One of the jobs I had as a child was selling water to athletes at a local park. Many people in the United States take the convenience of water for granted, but I would walk miles just to get the water and then I would take it to the park every day and sell it to help make money for my family. One day when I was out at the park with my water, a group of missionaries were there and had basketballs with them. At that time, the only thing we knew to do with a ball was to kick it, but they were teaching us how to shoot into a hoop.  They decided to have a shooting contest amongst some of the kids and luckily I was chosen to compete.  I ended up winning the contest and they presented me with a pair of shoes as the prize. Winning a pair of shoes to us was like winning a car. I was so excited and wanted to immediately run home and show my family. I ran home so fast that I forgot my bucket of water at the park.  As soon as I got home, the first thing my mom asked about was where my bucket of water was so I had to run back and get it, but when I got back and showed her my shoes, she was so happy for me.  


i[x]   After you received your shoes, you were inspired to play basketball and eventually landed a full basketball scholarship to attend the University of North Dakota-Lake Region.  How did you feel knowing you were going to get the chance to continue playing basketball while earning a college education in the United States?

MO  Before I left the park that day, one missionary from Wisconsin stopped me and told me “Just because all you see around you is poverty, it doesn’t mean the One who created you forgot about you.  Dream big.”  That’s when I began a journey to discover something different that I was good at doing. I would go to the basketball court all of the time, especially when things got tough around my home.  I started to love the game and dreamed of playing in the U.S.  I was lucky enough to have a coach who connected me to the states and ended up receiving five scholarship offers and decided to accept the offer to be a student-athlete at the University of North Dakota-Lake Region. It was a dream come true to be the first in my family to attend college and get out of the situation I was in.  


i[x]   What was it like the first time you set foot in North Dakota?

MO  At first, I didn’t know the difference between North Dakota and North Carolina. My family couldn’t afford for me to get a plane ticket so my mom had to sell mostly everything she had for the $1,300 flight, which felt like a million dollars to us.  When I first got to North Dakota, I thought I had done something wrong because it was so cold, but the people in North Dakota ended up being some of the warmest and most caring people.  


i[x]   Briefly tell us about life for you immediately after graduation.

MO  After two years at North Dakota-Lake Region, I transferred to Concordia College where I finished up my Bachelor’s degree and then I received my Master’s from North Dakota State University.  Upon graduation, I accepted a position at a technology firm in Charlotte, North Carolina.  My wife, whom I met in North Dakota, and I had a newborn so we were excited about the opportunity to raise our child in Charlotte.  


i[x]   Despite your success in the business world, you never forgot your roots in Africa and the boys and girls who were living in poverty, so you decided to leave your position as an executive to start Samaritan’s Feet.  Can you describe what led to the creation of Samaritan’s Feet?

MO  On a trip back home to Africa to bury my father after he had passed away, I visited the house that I grew up in and was so overwhelmed with emotions that I began to cry.  To clear my head, I decided to walk across the street to visit the park where I had sold water as a child. When I got there, I saw kids who were just like me: without any purpose or shoes.  That’s when I began to think about what it would be like if I could come back and give them hope and start teaching sports and provide them with shoes. That’s where my dream began.


i[x]   How hard was it as a family man to leave a comfortably paying job and start an organization with an uncertain future?  

MO  When I returned to the states, I knew I was called to something bigger, but I was comfortable in my own world with my job and family. Everything was going well in life, but my heart kept calling and I knew something had to be done. I also knew that starting an organization would take a lot of money, so my wife and I prayed over the decision.  It took five years before I finally answered the call to begin Samaritan’s Feet.  


i[x]   What is Samaritan’s Feet and what is its purpose?

MO  Samaritan’s Feet is not just a non-profit, nor just a humanitarian aid organization – but a community of more than 70,000 volunteers who have joined together to make a difference in the lives of children in need in every corner of the world. Our goal is to put a pair of shoes on ten million kids. Nearly 300 million people go without shoes each day and millions are plagued with foot-borne illnesses that may be preventable by simple protection – shoes.  Through this simple act of humility and servant-leadership, our team members and volunteers are expressing love, compassion, and a message that brings hope.  


i[x]   Can you tell us a little about the basketball game in 2008 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) when then head coach Ron Hunter (currently head coach at Georgia State University) coached a game without shoes and how that impacted Samaritan’s Feet?

MO  In late 2007, I wanted to expand the reach of Samaritan’s Feet and I was introduced to Ron Hunter.  After we met, he agreed to coach a game without any shoes on and he also pledged to help raise 40,000 shoes. He ended up getting 110,000 shoes and it was just a magical moment for Samaritan’s Feet.  The success of that night led us to partnerships with other NCAA teams, the NBA and the NFL, among others. Steve Smith of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers is an endorser and I even got a chance to make an appearance on NBA on TNT.  We’ve also created a sister organization which builds schools in international communities. To this date, we’ve engaged over 80,000 volunteers.


i[x]   How many children do you estimate you’ve impacted since starting Samaritan’s Feet?

MO  So far, we’ve helped close to five million children. It’s hard to know the full reach, because shoe companies have now started to get involved as they have taken notice that shoes are a major need for underprivileged children.    


i[x]   What is the best way for our readers to get involved with Samaritan’s Feet?

MO  They can start by visiting to find events near them and sign up as volunteers.  Or if they would rather donate, there is a way for them to donate online.  One particular event we participate in every year is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service which impacts 10,000 people in about 30 cities.  


i[x]   Throughout your journey in life, who has made the most impact on you? Who inspires you?

MO  My mother is my biggest source of inspiration.  I remember her telling me as a child that “the reason the sky is so high, is so that poor boys like you can dream high.” She made me believe that I could do anything I wanted. My wife and children are also inspirational as they have sacrificed and shown support throughout this entire journey. One other person who really inspired me is Martin Luther King, Jr. He stood for courage and lived and died for a cause bigger than his.  He used his voice to make an impact on others.    


i[x]   What message do you want to leave with our readers?

MO  What’s your singular purpose in life and what are you using your platform to do? Nobody should waste their stage on themselves.  I want to leave them with this final thought: “My life, all that I have, all that I am, and all that I have been given, is too valuable to simply be hoarded for my own temporary purposes. I choose to invest.  I choose to give. I choose to serve. I choose to make a difference. Let’s leave a legacy.”



A Foundation of Hope & Support

Posted by Ne[x]t on 01.06.13

Most people are shocked to learn that children, even babies, can get brain tumors. But brain cancer is a harsh reality for hundreds of children in metro Atlanta. In most cases the diagnosis will turn life upside down for the entire family. Since 1983 the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children has been here for families at what will probably be the most difficult time of their lives.

From providing books that teach parents about the disease and what to expect… to treating children and their families to fun events in the midst of the grueling and lengthy treatment protocol… to helping families pay household bills when a parent must quit her job in order to care for her child… to helping with funeral expenses, for which no parent is ever prepared. The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children does all this and more for children and families in Atlanta and the southeast.

Fortunately brain and spinal cord tumors in children are not as common as most other diseases. But when they do happen, the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children is here to help families cope.

Learn more at

Volunteer with i[x]

Posted by Ne[x]t on 04.12.11

Hey friends! Earth Day is just around the corner and I have an awesome opportunity for you guys to volunteer and give back to the Atlanta community.Join me on Saturday, April 16 (9am-12pm) to help the Georgia State University Student Government Association clean-up around downtown Atlanta with the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association. 

There will be free munchies and a tailgating after the clean-up. We’ll be meeting on the parking lot operated by Parking Co. of America on John Wesley Dobbs Ave. 

If you want to help out you can sign up here or email me at and let me know if you plan on helping.  Please spread the word!

*Instructions for Volunteering: Meet us in the parking lot at the corner of John Wesley Dobbs Ave and Peachtree Center Ave. betweet 8:00 am and 9:00 am on Saturday, April 16.  If you’re taking MARTA, take the south exit at Peachtree Center Station and walk east on J.W. Dobbs Ave, between the Candler Building and the Georgia-Pacific Building.

Brian Jordan – Planning for Success

Posted by Ne[x]t on 04.08.11

He’s been an All-Star with the Atlanta Braves, an All-Pro with the Atlanta Falcons, an Emmy award-winning sports analyst and an accomplished author.  Brian Jordan is a man with many talents.

He even started his own foundation, the Brian Jordan Foundation (BJF), in 1998, which helps children strive to reach their full potential.  Brian was kind enough to sit down with us recently to talk about his success, advice for i[x]er’s and inspiration behind starting the BJF.

i[x]: Early in your career, you were a two-sport athlete and being a two-sport athlete is a rare occurrence.  How were you able to balance the rigorous day-to-day activities of both baseball and football?

BJ: I was inspired at an early age to stay active and play as many sports as possible. So from the time I was six years old, I played three sports: football, basketball and baseball. I managed to balance my seasons and days accordingly. When I got to college, I eliminated basketball from my day-to-day schedule and focused on football and baseball at the University of Richmond.  From that point, I was blessed to continue both sports at the professional level.

i[x]: After juggling baseball and football for several years, why did you decide to give up your football career to concentrate on baseball?

BJ: After having three successful years in the minor leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis offered me a three year guaranteed contract to stick with baseball. I had played with the Atlanta Falcons for three years and just been named as an alternate in the Pro Bowl. I was now an unrestricted free agent with the Falcons, although I didn’t want to give up on football, I decided to commit to baseball.

i[x]: Who had the biggest influence on you as an athlete?

BJ: Growing up as a child, the athletes who had the biggest influence on me, besides my athletic parents, were Walton Payton and Earl Campbell on the football field.  I admired their toughness and work ethic. On the baseball diamond I admired Ozzie Smith and Cal Ripken. Both of them had big hearts in the game and in the community.

i[x]: What is your favorite memory as a Major League Baseball player?

BJ: My favorite memory as a baseball player was making the 1999 All-Star Game. The All-Century team was announced and gathered on the field during that game. To be in the stadium and to witness the greatness on the field before the All-Star game started was just an honor to me.  I remember seeing Ted Williams riding in the golf cart onto the field. That was incredible, especially since the game was played in Boston.

i[x]: You currently work as a TV analyst for the Braves. How did you get into commentating?  Is it something that you see yourself doing for a while?

BJ: After retiring in 2006, I received a call from Fox Sports South saying they wanted me to audition for the Pre and Post Game Coverage of Braves Live and the rest is history.  I also work for Comcast Sports South, the Gwinnett Braves and call College Baseball games. I never thought I would be commentating, but I’m enjoying my new career.

i[x]: You also are an accomplished writer having written a best-selling children’s book, I Told You I Can Play and Overcoming the Fear of the Baseball. What inspired you to write books?

BJ: Growing up watching my mother, a special needs schoolteacher, pour her heart and soul into her kids at school inspired me to give back to children. I knew if I ever reached my goals and dreams, I would help young people.  Writing books was a way for me to share my childhood experiences and encourage kids to read. Both of my books I Told You I Can Play and Overcoming the Fear of the Baseball are childhood experiences that will hopefully inspire and motivate our youth to dream big, never give up and overcome any fear they may have.

i[x]: What artists/music do you have on your iPod?

BJ: I listen to all types of music. I have R&B, Jazz, Country, Rap and Gospel. Some of my favorite artists right now are Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Jay Z, Fred Hammond and Taylor Swift.

i[x]: You are obviously very accomplished on and off the field and have worked very hard along the way.  What advice do you have for students as they begin future life endeavors?

BJ: Dream big, have a vision and a plan A, B & C. Work hard to execute it by being patient and resilient. Always believe and trust in yourself. Last but not least, have confidence. Confidence is the key.

i[x]: i[x] is all about being smart with your money.  Do you have any financial advice or tips to give young adults today?

BJ: Start saving for the future now. Set up a savings account and slowly add to it and let your money grow for the future.

i[x]: One of the pillars of the i[x] mission is “I Will Help Others.” You started the Brian Jordan Foundation (BJF) in 1998 to create and support programs for children and their families. Can you tell me what inspired you to start this foundation?

BJ: Watching my mother inspired me to start my foundation and inspired me to want to give back and help our future any way I could. The mission of the foundation is “In Every Child There Is the Potential For Excellence” and I truly believe that, and I hope to inspire all children to reach their full potential.

i[x]: What does it mean to you to be involved and give back to the community?

BJ: It means a lot. The joy of seeing the smiles on the faces of children when you take the time to read a book to them, help them swing the bat or catch the ball, provide them with school supplies or a scholarship for college is indescribable and makes it all worthwhile.

i[x]: What type of programs does the BJF support?

BJ: The Brian Jordan Foundation helps all children through programs that focus on literacy, health and fitness and scholarships.

i[x]: What do you have in store for BJF in the future?

BJ: In 2011, the Brian Jordan Foundation will have the following events:
• BJF Scholarship Program (Applications accepted from February – May 1st)
• Rolling For the Future (Kids Bowling Event Sponsored by Kids ‘R’ Kid) – July 12-14, 2011
• Sips For Success (Wine Tasting/Casino Night) – August 27, 2011
• Camp Jordan 2011 (Free baseball camp for kids) –  July 30, 2011
• Halloween Themed Par Party – October 30, 2011
• BJF Celebrity Golf Classic – October 31, 2011
• Katchin’ for Kids (Bass Tournament on Lake Lanier) –  November 12th

i[x]: How can our i[x] members be involved or help out with the BJF?

BJ: Visit our website at and sign up to volunteer or call our office at 770-774-3516.  We are also always looking for volunteers, sponsors and donations for our annual events.

Guest Blog – GCADV

Posted by Ne[x]t on 02.28.11

As part of this quarter’s i[give] with the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV), we have a special blog post: 

1 in 3 teenagers experiences relationship abuse.  Relationship abuse crosses all racial, economic and cultural backgrounds.  Unfortunately, I know a bit about this sort of abuse, and I want to let you know that you are not alone if you are someone that is being abused.  That’s important.  It can be hard letting anyone know about the “real” relationship you and your boyfriend have because the abuse can get even worse.  Economic abuse, or abuse with money, can cause a lot of issues in a relationship, even if you’re a teen.  Here’s my story… 

Okay, so I started hanging out with this guy when I was 14.  He was 15, hot, a grade older than me, had a job, and was very popular.  Dating him was great because when I started my freshman year at the same high school as him, he was a sophomore and already well-known.  Plus, people thought I was older than I was because I was always hanging around him and his friends.  It all started great but moved pretty quickly. 

Once we had been together for about 6 weeks, he gave me $500 for my birthday.  For our first anniversary, he bought me a huge sapphire ring.  He would tell EVERYONE that he got me the jewelry and make sure that anyone we came into contact with knew that I was his.  He took me shopping and picked out clothes for me.  I didn’t even realize how much I started changing.  In the back of my mind, I always felt like I owed him something because he had given me so much.  My parents always told me that we were getting too serious, but I didn’t feel that way.  I didn’t realize that his behavior was how he started controlling me. 

When I turned 16, I started thinking about getting a part-time job so I could get a car and pay for my own phone.  He was always angry at my parents for making me get off the phone because they were getting overages on their bill.  He told me that getting a job was stupid idea because he would never get to see me if we were both working.  I told him that we could hang out at school or on the nights that we were both off since he had a car.  He wasn’t happy, but I got a job anyway where all my friends worked.  He came into my job constantly.  He ended up getting me fired because my boss said that he was a distraction to me and my coworkers.

 After I was fired, I couldn’t pay for my phone anymore so he got his parents to add me to their family plan.  He agreed to pay for my unlimited minutes and texts.  He would grab my phone out of my purse so he could see exactly who I had been texting.  When I got mad at him, he’d say, “Well, you’re not paying for the phone anyway.”  He’d text my friends back from my phone pretending to be me and saying things that I would never say.  If I was talking to or texting guy friends, he’d call them and threaten them.  Everyone I knew well starting saying that I had changed and that I was “all up him.”  He’d text me all the time so that I couldn’t sleep.  My grades started slipping so my parents were pissed at me.  I couldn’t talk to them because they would tell me that they “told me so.”  All my friends started talking about how they were afraid he would “go psycho” on them, so people started avoiding me since he was always somewhere nearby.  Even though my Facebook showed this super-happy couple, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone.  I felt isolated and alone.  We finally broke up after a year and a half because I found out he had been cheating on me. 

My story isn’t different from a lot of teens.  This guy was my first serious boyfriend, and I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t for a relationship.  Now I realize that there were so many things unequal in our relationship.  He used his money, social status and technology to influence, monitor and control me.  Over and over, he showed a pattern of being jealous and possessive, and he tried to put me down in front of others.  Even though he would tell me that he loved me, his intentions were to make me do what he wanted me to do.  I wish I could tell my friends now what would have helped me then.  If you have a friend that is dealing with an abusive relationship, let them know you are concerned about them.  So many people gossiped about me, but none of my friends actually asked me if I was okay.  That would have helped me a lot.  Need more advice?  Call 1.800.334.2836 or

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