When President John F. Kennedy gave his famous 1961 inaugural address and delivered patriotic call to action, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," he inspired a generation to reach for the moon and pass the most far-reaching equal rights act in United States history.
On the birthday weekend of our country, former Newburyport High School athlete Dave Freeman has taken that heed in light of the recent oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and is seeking to make his country a better place.
A business major at the University of New Hampshire, Freeman said he often watches the news to stay in touch with current events pertaining to the economy because of his interest in working in the financial district in Boston after school.
However, after seeing the pictures of ecological disaster in the gulf and the dramatic impact it was having on so many businesses in that region of the country, specifically the fishing industry, Freeman took it upon himself to begin fundraising efforts in the Newburyport area for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.
"What drove me was seeing the pictures of what happened; it's not a pretty picture. Most of the people in the fishing business are out of work," said Freeman, who believes this spill is further evidence the U.S. needs stop relying on oil and instead invest in alternative energies. "I recently read a story about a guy that committed suicide because he was so depressed about losing his business.
"I thought about if there was an oil spill up here, the fishermen in our area would be devastated, too, and I saw no one was doing anything, so I discussed it with my best friend, Teddy O'Connor, and Dave Knock of Hard Knocks Gym in Amesbury and came up with this idea," continued Freeman, who said both Knock and Kevin Costner with his oil spill cleanup machine have been big inspirations. "Dave (Knock) gave me some contacts, and so I've been calling around. I'm hoping people will donate, because it's a great cause."
Freeman, along with his brother Derek and friend Billy Eiserman, plan to run the Yankee Homecoming 10-Mile Race and potentially push a wheelbarrow with 300 pounds in the Yankee Homecoming Parade in order to raise money for the fund. To date, Freeman has opened an account, begun producing flyers, contacted several banks about donating to the cause, created a Facebook event and plans to pursue vigorously his attempts to raise as much money as possible leading up to the big race.
Derek Freeman, who recently graduated from Newburyport, as well, said Dave, a go-getter, has been at the forefront of the fundraising operation.
"I remember one night at Starboard Galley we were having dinner with our family, talking about what happened with the oil spill, how people's lives have been affected with most of the fishermen (down there) losing their jobs, and how it could (drift) up here," Derek said. "A couple of nights later, Dave was like, 'Derek you want to do something about this,' and right from there, Dave started things up and took off."
Although both the Freemans were just young kids the last time the Gulf Coast region was struck with a major disaster — Hurricane Katrina — Dave said his motivation was magnified when he realized he could actually make an impact this time around to help the ravaged region.
"I have thought about (Katrina) and compared the two disasters, but they are both horrible and devastating," Dave said. "From my standpoint, Katrina happened (five years ago) when I was a kid, and I wasn't that motivated to do something. After watching the oil spill and seeing people go through hardship after just rebuilding from Katrina, it's just ridiculous, and I wanted to do something to help."
To make a donation, people can make out checks to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. People can get in touch with him at email@example.com to help with the effort.