Update #18: Messages from Strangers & Samples

Dear RFP Backers,

Good morning! It's 5:23a and my mind just opened for business, which means my body will have to follow—quickly—if we are going to make this an effective update, with no misspells. Bear with me.

This week on Facebook, I shared something I hadn't done before: two messages from strangers. Every now and then I get direct messages, via website, personal message on Facebook, or a handwritten letter. As I was reading these messages this past Saturday morning, I decided to share this with those of you that are connected to me on Facebook. Why? Well, I hope to share as many of these "good things" I receive with you. Beyond their shortened initial in their signature, these are copy and pasted directly as they arrived to my personal email inbox. 

Clicking around the internet. Came across your project. I'm honored to live in a time when the likes of you are doing such amazing things. I'm inspired and a better person for knowing of Red Fred. I live on Long Island, NY. If you need anything when your project brings you to NY, please don't hesitate to contact me. 

Hi there -- Your Red Fred Project series may well be the best therapy those fifty kids -- along with their families, plus other disabled kids and their families -- will receive. Because a disability pension is basically my income (car accident, 1979), and I certainly don't have a credit card (!), I can't offer much in the way of a donation. I live in Alberta, Canada and, if you'd email me your actual postal address, perhaps I could forward you a small cheque? Also, would I be able to order from your 'catalogue?' Your all-encompassing project is worth so much more... Thanks in advance. 


The same morning I was getting ready to attend a funeral of a very dear friend of mine; he was 37 and a master at caring for others. He was a Salt Lake City epicenter—as you could find a number of connections to him, in a variety of circles. He lived a very full life and was a fantastic example of how you "care" for your clients, customers—who really end up being your friends.

Within the hour of getting the news from those two loving strangers, Red Fred Project also received two monetary donations, via the website. As I peered at the amounts and the names of those do-gooders, I saw that one had also input their phone number on the form. Suddenly, I had this notion of "How would Justin (my deceased friend) handle such happiness?"

He would call them. 

So I did.

The sweet gal didn't actually pick up, so I left as kind a message as I could muster with my froggy Saturday morning voice.

Why share this with you? I guess for a couple of reasons. The Red Fred Project is getting to be known by the merits and efforts of others. I am completely humbled each and every time I hear of "how" it gets noticed or "why" someone decides to send us "as much as they can." 

And it's because of the very nature of these "kind strangers" that are coming into our lives that I want to improve HOW we share... WHAT we share. Because I think we all need to know these kind of things. 

Secondly, I find it wonderfully pleasing that I want to be better, at connecting with others and listening to them, because of the life of my deceased friend. I love how he handled his relationships. In fact, it was said at his funeral that he had very few material things; but what he did have—and what he valued above all—where his relationships. It was amazing to see people that had known him 1 week that showed up to pay respects.

So, what can we do to be a little better communicating with our friends? Our clients? Our contributors? Are they well? Are they happy? How can we improve their lives as they are, most likely, improving ours? 

Thank you, very much, for your continued support. I feel it every day. As for the wrap-up: I'm going to load up 3 images from "The Fashion Nest" which will be sent to proof this week (!!!). Two of the images are actual spreads; one of them is a study on nests (we made it outta parenthesis). 

Make it a great week!

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #17: Creative No. 3 & HooplaHa

Good morning, my dear Red Fred Project Backers.

I hope this finds you well and up&at'em. Unlike our usual Sunday updates, I've decided to post this today because I'm too excited to wait until Sunday.

A couple of months ago, just days after you helped us exceed our Kickstarter goal—thereby enabling us to move ahead on the project—I was contacted by an organization that is intent on sharing "good news—only." They call themselves HooplaHa (I love saying it aloud; it kinda jumps around in your mouth!) and they were very interested in what we were doing. They told me they'd like to come on one of my workshops with our Creatives and film how it was done. We determined to have them come along when I met Jordan, our third Creative for the Red Fred Project, based outta Santa Monica, CA. 

Here's the thing: going into people's homes is a special thing. Something about walking into their walls and then sitting in the front rooms, drinking tap water out of the glasses they use, day in and day out, or eating a peanut butter sandwich at their dinner table while you chat with the kids is ALL very special to me. I'm always cautious of who else comes with me because, well, we're sitting and creating in their very personal spaces.

We know our project is special; we know we have been entrusted with the highest trust. Consequently, I make sure (and then I make sure 4 more times) anyone that walks through that front door with me understand the place they tread on and how silvery it is.

HooplaHa sent us a very caring, loving videographer, Jeff Katz, who created what you're going to see next. He sat and watched me, quiet as a church mouse and then very tastefully interviewed Jordan and her parents. I'd like to thank him for the care with which he did his work. You can imagine my utter delight when they sent me the link to see what they had created.

Yesterday, I was sent this link and posted it on Facebook, but still knew there were thousands of you that I'd hope would like to see it. We, the Vincents included, we are all in love with this piece and we think it did our "Slayer" (Jordan's nickname) right.

I hope you take a moment to watch this 4-minute dose of sunshine. I hope you take a moment to realize, as you quietly watch this in your kitchen, in your office, at your college, in your home room—I hope each of you realize this was able to happen because you believed in what this project would do. And now... we get to see powerful glimpses into the lives of these children. What a seat to be in!

Of course, if you share this video, it will only garner more strength and attention to our project. If you are so kind to share it, would you mind also directing viewers to our Facebook page? Naturally, I'll post this in our blog, as well, so that we will alway be able to find it.

With a grateful heart and teary eyes, I thank you for helping us. There are MANY more of these videos that will be made possible because of the belief you have in these powerful, wonderful Creatives.

Now I'll give you your 4-minutes. :) Click here or click on the link below.

Artist Co-Creates Amazing Children's Books Written By Sick Kids

 ,&! my friends,
Dallas & Red Fred

Update #16: Time with Creative No. 4

Dear Red Fred Backers,

It's 6:30p in Salt Lake City and just this afternoon, I returned from workshopping with our fourth Creative for the Red Fred Project: Colin Kopacko. I thought I'd share a few things from you regarding the visit. 

• I arrived Friday afternoon, jumped in the rental car and made my way to Midtown, where a great guy, Greg Marx, gave me keys to his soon-to-be sold house. When I arrived at the house, the real estate agent was actually showing a couple the space. Greg had revamped this place and it was very nice. There was a large bedroom with a queen size bed and a bathroom with a tub with jets. Great little area to be located in as there were cafes and restaurants in walking distance from the front door. All this was done, free of charge to me. Imagine my gratitude!

• After I dropped my bags, I headed out to meet our film crew, Ryan and Jed. The two of these gentlemen work for Kidnected World—a lovely organization intent on sharing the powerful stories and interests of children, around the world. They volunteered to be eyes and ears and to create a piece of our time spent that we will show later. We met up and drove to the Kopackos together.

• We stopped at Chick-Fil-A to grab some waffle fries for Colin and Jesse, as this is the only solid food they can eat. And I wish I was being figurative—but I'm not. These two brothers have mitochondrial disease which attacks on a cellular level which doesn't allow their bodies to digest proteins. We enjoyed some fries with the boys and then jumped into figuring out the story.

• The super-fun was designing Colin's Trooper, Charlie. You'll have to wait to see what he looks like, but I'll give you a couple of hints: he's "Hulk" green and is almost as tall as Stilts.

• Ryan and Jed were able to capture some of the everyday processes of health and medication the boys and their parents go through. This was especially sobering, as we learned what "maintaining a healthy life" meant. We were moved to tears. You'll get more on that when Ryan and Jed's piece is produced.

• Saturday morning we met downtown, in Memphis! The boys were bundled up, topped with their RFP Creative Caps. Colin even brought his own camera to join me in shooting. We were hunting for colors that matched the Troopers that will be involved in his story, as he's very interested in the idea of camouflage. We also walked around historic parts of the city and even saw the entire city from the roof of The Peabody Hotel.

• After the city, we drove to a park to capture a few images Colin had been musing on. He called them "mushrooms." We spent a few minutes there and then said goodbyes to one another.

• Last night I had dinner with an old friend of mine, Angela, that has volunteered to be the Volunteer Coordinator for the book-signing when we next come back. That's a big deal and it means the world to have a friend out there that will help make it a success! Thanks Angela and Ty!

• Our time this morning was cut short, as we had a miscommunication, so we were unable to take a family photo; that being said, we did Skpye tonight and Colin informed me of more details of his story. 

On a personal level, I had a rough go one of the mornings. Being a witness to these families... being a stranger that comes into their home and gets a glimpse at what goes on... it's all very humbling and at time, hard—because I find it hard to understand how they keep going. I shared a very real, honest response to this, via Facebook, and have decided to share it with you, as I feel/know I have your trust.

Click here to see the video on our Red Fred Project YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rQ7MYFb2-o&feature=youtu.be

Lastly, I thought I'd add some images from our time together to let you in on our experience. 


As always, I am deeply moved by your continued support and love. We are so excited to continue this project across the country. Everyone we encounter—on the planes, in cafes, on the streets—loves the Red Fred Project. You helped us get here and we're going to continue to grow.

Heart-felt thanks to each and every one of you!

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #15: A New Creative | Title of Book No. 3

Good Evening, Red Fred Project Backers.

8:16p in Salt Lake City, Utah. We've had a happy "clearing" the last couple of days in our air quality: blissful, clear blue skies and white mountains. I was reflecting on the words of that Mr Emerson so many of us enjoy. Please allow me to share: 

"We are always getting ready to live but never living." 

I'm surrounded by wonderful people who also happen to be my friends. The lives they live remind me of this very thing Mr Emerson was penning. I wonder what it conjures in your mind when you read it. Hopefully "the good stuff"—encouraging thoughts that enable the "living" we all so desperately seek.

Some really wonderful news I'd like to share with you:

• we have selected our next Creative! He's a five-year old named Collin, from Tennessee. We had our first Skype session with him and I was astounded by his very exacting words, the way he presented himself and his good nature. We plan to have another session with him this coming Thursday to see how he's done with his creative tasks, so far. To learn a little bit more about Collin and the condition he and his younger brother face, visit their website: http://www.kopacko.com/

• Jordan, our California Creative, has decided on a title for her book: "The Fashion Nest." She is going over the outline and then we'll be able to start in on the book with her approval.

• I sent many messages to a number of you regarding rewards. Thank you for your patience. We've almost got things in place so we can start those in interest. Thank you for your responses. If you haven't received a message, don't worry—you will.

• we have a number of contacts in other states that are helping us find our additional creatives; we hope to announce them as soon as they are firmed up

Before I sign off, I want to thank you for allowing me to do this great work with children. Please know I feel your support and I'm doing my best to make sure we have a strong beginning that only becomes more solidified with each new experience with these wonderful families and children.

Wishing you a very happy New Year!


Dallas & Red Fred

Update #14: Book 3 Book-signing

Happy Holiday, Red Fred Project Backers!

It's Sunday night, 6:16p, in Salt Lake City, and the holiday cheer couldn't be merrier, to be totally honest. This last week we had a scare as the printers weren't sure if they'd have the books ready for our book-signing, but Old St Nick pulled a fast one and we now have 200 copies of the book—all purchased by the Simis family—in the boot of my hatchback. We are going to "sled" them up bright and early tomorrow morning. 

As far as what's going on and "upcoming":

• the event is being held at this address: Scentsy Office Tower, 2901 E Pine Avenue, Meridian, Idaho, 83642; 6:30p-8:00p.

• tomorrow night, 6:30-8:00p, is our second book-signing with Shaelyn! So much of what we're doing with all these Creatives will culminate at this event, as they are able to connect with their friends, family and community to share what they've learned and created with their individual books. So, in a BIG way, this is one of the pay off days!

• just a reminder: all of the proceeds made from the book purchases go to the family. This is one of the major reasons why we are excited for this family. It's a fun creative way that your support really does support a great cause! 

• the book is now available for purchase and will be shipped to you! We place the orders weekly on Monday. This week's orders will not be arriving before Christmas, but hopefully you'll still find reason to share and support the effort, even if the holiday goes by.

• SPOILER ALERT: there is a certain "lightning" bird that may make a cameo appearance in our new book. :) I guess you'll have to read it for yourselves. 

• we are currently working on Jordan's story and hope to give you more on that. If you didn't catch it from Facebook, I'll share it here: her bird's name is Delilah and she's a fashion designer.

• we are in earnest to get you your rewards. Thank you for bearing with us (and by "us" I mean me, Dallas. It's a one-man show right now and I'm doing my best to get your rewards out the door). 
Thank you for all the amazing support as we move ahead with this project. Seeing the book-signing to number 2 only makes us more excited to see the signing for book number 3! We'll keep you updated via social media, as much as we can. In case you haven't found us, here you go:

Twitter: @redfred_project Facebook: search Red Fred Project Instagram: @redfredproject; #redfredproject

Wishing all of you buckets and pillows of Holiday Cheer!

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #13: Book 3 Beginnings | Hurdles | New Years Eve

Dear Red Fred Project Backers,

It's below freezing in Salt Lake City (a balmy 21º F) and yesterday in Santa Monica, CA, I think it was low 70s. Regardless of the shift, things are moving ahead, into the sky, with the Red Fred Project.

Here's what's going on:

• we had our workshop with our California Creative, Jordan, last wkend! I found the Vincent family tucked away in a lovely neighborhood in Santa Monica. Jordan was chipper, sharp and always siding towards silly. On Friday we talked about her likes, basic ideas of the book, we designed and named her bird (Delilah Brannboll), ate spinach pizza and also had an interview with a organization named HooplaHa that will be doing a story on Jordan. It was a lot and she did wonderfully. 

• Jordan was also selected by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for their Holiday Campaign. There is a very real and moving montage of her that I invite you to view. There are volumes to take away from it—realizing what children like her go through in their efforts to slay cancer. Please take a moment, watch this montage and let your intuition do something to you. http://www.alexslemonade.org/slaycancer

 Jeanette, Gracie, Larry & Jordan

Jeanette, Gracie, Larry & Jordan

• we have been notified by our printer that "Friend Ships in a Storm" may be delayed for the book-signing event next Monday night. We are crestfallen, a bit, but we still hope a Christmas miracle happens. I'm very sorry to be delivering this news, but please stay tuned, especially you Idaho folks planning on going, as to what we will do. 

 Presley, Holly, Shae & Michael

Presley, Holly, Shae & Michael


• the city of Boise and some people helping plan a New Year's Eve event have invited us to be apart and they want to showcase the Simis Family! We are trying to work out details as to what that means and, it might be there that we have a New Year's book-signing. We'll keep you posted. 

Each time I've started a new book project with a new child, I'm fascinated by the universal realization that they are all very different and all very similar. That sounds like an obvious observation, I'm sure, but I think you can imagine what I mean, too. The continued desire I witness, over and over, is one of perseverance, optimism and maturity. 

We hope our dropping in on you reminds of the "upper" things during this Holiday season. Thanks to each of you, we get to continue our movement forward in finding and working with each of these new Creatives! 

More to come!

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #11: December = Reward Fulfillment, Book(s) for Xmas?

Dear Red Fred Project Backers,

I couldn't hit the hay without our weekly "meet up." I enjoy these moments with you more and more. This is going to be very quick, so I hope you'll forgive my brevity.

December marks a very FUN/FULL month with the Red Fred Project for the following reasons: 

• we are closing in on the story and artwork for the new book by our ID Creative, Shae, Friend Ships in a Storm
• we will be meeting with our CA Creative, Jordan, for her workshop either the first or second wkend in December to capture the content of her story
• we are hoping to have significant events around the both books completions
• we are hoping our super-powers kick in addition to Santa's helpers giving us a hand trying to create 2 books before Christmas—simply because that would be great fun
• reward fulfillment starts in earnest this month, with us doing AS MUCH as we possibly can to fulfill the rewards in a timely manner so be on the look out for emails asking for info

We had some really great media coverage of our time with Shae in Idaho the last couple of weeks. If you'd like to watch and read these stories, please see the 3 links below:

• http://www.jrn.com/kivitv/news/Red-Fred-Project-Meridian-Idaho-Shae-Simis-233873711.html
• http://www.mymeridianpress.com/news/meridian-first-grader-chosen-for-red-fred-project/article_56ed8bf6-5275-11e3-b237-0019bb2963f4.html
• http://www.mymeridianpress.com/plugged_in/columnists/red-fred-founder-happiness-is-a-choice/article_de4d5036-5270-11e3-9b77-0019bb2963f4.html

We have a few more families we are going to be contacting with regards to the selection of the new Creatives, as well, so that's in the pipeline! 

There's A LOT going on, as you can see. We're so very glad we are able to do this. As always, your support is incredible. Your continued support means the world. Please continue to pass along the links, tell people about the books, order copies for presents and take time to read with your children... All of this do-gooding will do more good. 

In closing, I'd like to share a fantastic quote I received this week from the book Tesla Inventor of the Electrical Age: 

Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge” because “knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
What a fine thought to go to sleep to. G'night, my friends.

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #12: Book 2 Moving In | CA Girl

Dear Red Fred Project Backers,

Two days late! My apologies for being a couple of days late to our "regular" sit down on Sunday. Thanks for bearing with me.

Maybe it's the "bowl full of jelly" atmosphere that seems to be tip-toeing around my neck of the woods, but are you noticing some serious MAGIC? I am! The Jolly Troop and I are constantly amazed by what's showing up—and not just RFP-related; goodness on all accounts.

Here's what's going on this week:

• I pressed "send" TODAY for book 2 "Friend Ships in a Storm" to be sent to the printer today. They will print it and then I'll need to proof it. If all goes well, we'll get a nice order ready for our Idaho book-signing

• All you Spuds: mark your calendars for Monday, 23 December. We want you to show up and show some love and support as Shae has her first book-signing event in Boise/Meridian area. We've almost nailed down the venue, so we'll be sure to send that along.

• When Shae's mom, Holly, spoke with me about the 2 lessons at the end of the book today, my words and throat got caught and the tears came easily. I'm astounded—again—by what this young girl has tried to share and the simplicity of her voice in saying what she's learned. Again: the book is worth the purchase for those 2 lessons alone.
• We are flying to Santa Monica Friday and meeting Jordan Vincent to begin the story-making for book 3! She has a wonderful premiss to her story and it's going to be a ton of fun making it. Additionally, there will be a story on her and the project done by some new friends of ours back East that are flying here to film the story. We'll give you more on that as it approaches.

• CA Film Folks: I need an indie film-maker / videographer type that can show up and help document my time there. Please send me a note (dallas@redfredproject.com) if you think you can help out Friday, Saturday and Sunday for about 2 hrs each day. Your content will be used for a *cross your fingers* documentary we will produce in the future. Please get in touch with me ASAP and I'll let you know if I can use your help!

• I'm working with some folks that are trying to help me with finding a more price-effective point for our printing. My goal is to give the kids the funds past the point of printing, so we are figuring out new details where that can happen. It's GOOD news.

• My apologies for our delayed printings of "Climbing with Tigers." We're trying to get that mended, just as soon as we can. We had to revise some art and the printers are trying to do their best with our needs as well as many others. I know most of you have planned these for Xmas. I'm hoping that we can do that! Know that we are doing our best!

• Please message me personally if you are interested in volunteering at our event in Boise/Meridian. I will put you in touch with the RFP Volunteer Coordinator for Idaho.

And, as usual, I can't thank you enough. Just this week we received a very generous donation of large scale; and while eating tonight, a stranger stopped me and embraced me because she had heard about the project and offered to give what she had: $20. Do you know what's amazing? It's all the same: you helping us help these kids create something lasting and real.

All our love,
Dallas & Red Fred

Update #10: New Cover Art, New Title, Book Ready for Pre-Sale

8:22a | Sunday | Salt Lake City

Dear Red Fred Project Backers:

Good morning to all you early morning risers (why am I saying it's "early"? Who am I kidding?). I hope your day begins with a delicious breakfast, some slow, slipper scuffing around and a pleasant opportunity to read some things you like. 

We've made some great progress on our Idaho Creative's story this week. Working on some of the artwork has brought back the familiar-and-yet-always-new elation of creation. The photo-editing has been intriguing as I look at all the images we shot and try matching what we saw with what we storyboarded. The happy "trick" is also knowing that one image may used more than once, depending on how smart we are and which portion of the image we use. Additionally, as we match up the images with the written content, we are always trying to "match" the feeling of what is being shared as a story and how it matches the backdrop.

After some happy consideration last night, I've decided I'm going to share the title of the new book, as well as the cover art, with you today! You'll recognize its similarity toClimbing with Tigers as well as a distinct difference. Are you ready? 

Cover art for our Idaho Creative's book!

Isn't that little Daisy bird about the cutest thing you've seen? Shae wanted her teeny-tiny, so we made it so. If you click on the image it will bring you to our next big news: we are making it available for pre-order, as it is planned to be completed by mid-December! Regarding purchasing the book: 

• if you are planning to go to the book-signing in Boise/Meridian next month, may I suggest you wait to purchase the book there, with Shae's family (you'll probably get a signed copy!)
• if you won't be able to attend the book-signing and you live outta state, then by all means, order your copies online through our shop

In case that link doesn't work, click on this link to go to the shop: http://redfredproject.com/shop/friend-ships-in-a-storm

We hope to have our first draft ready for printing proofs and copy edits by the end of next wk! I'll be doing my best to stick to that schedule. 

Thank you for your amazing support. We couldn't do this without you. I promise each of you: this new book offers new, generations-old insight on the significance of living and the powerful imagination that children have. This week, as we gobble into Thanksgiving, I want you to know how grateful I am for each of you. And I'll also say how much the Glad family and the Simis family are grateful for your love and support. I correspond regularly with them and they are enamored by your thoughtful support.

Enjoy your Sunday. Love one another. Play a joke on someone that will enjoy it. Let's enjoy these moments together. 

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #9: Autumn in Boise

Johnson Residence

Dear Red Fred Backers,

It's 9:14a in Boise, Idaho and it smells like Autumn when I look outside. I've been staying at our Host Family's residence: a fantastic property that has been in the Boise area for 40+ years. Brick sidewalks, mini-donkeys, a silo with ivy growing on it's side and trees that lived longer (and taller) than me.

Miaken Christiansen (member of the Creative Team) joined me on this jaunt from Salt Lake City. She's been capturing motion and still images the entire trip and I'm happy to report that she has seen/heard some powerful things regarding our ID Creative, Shaelyn Simis. 

We arrived in Meridian on Friday around 1:00p and made our way to Shae's elementary school. As it was a teacher's prep day, school was "out" for the day so it was unusually quiet for an elementary. Shae's principal, Melanie Koch, greeted us at the door with a giant smile and we all made our way to Shae's first grade class room. The tour was wonderful: we saw where she keeps her other books (illustrated pages of important days in her life), where her cubby was, where she puts completed assignments, where the dice and where card and board games were placed, alongside the dice. In tow was a photographer from a local station that was interested in the story. 

Our next stop was the school library where we found a very helpful librarian. We asked her where she thought Shae's book would live, once it was completed. She directed us to the stacks and shelves where she thought it might go: possibly biographical work, but as it was a fictional, illustrated storybook, it may go somewhere else. Shae also showed us how to check out a book and we considered what it would be like to have her book checked out by other students.

Our last bit of workshopping that day was to create her Trooper, so we made our way to her home and cracked open my lap top. This part of the workshopping is so much fun because the child gets to think and figure on shapes of letters, we talk proportions and placement. I also brought my big color swatches and she was able to thumb through the peacock-array of my colors to decide what color her bird, Daisy, is going to be. I think it's safe to say we all fell in love with Daisy, immediately, and she looked very "apart" of the rest of that gaggle of Troopers. She especially looked good sitting atop Blue Lightning's (Nathan's Trooper) back.

As I'm in a bit of a rush this morning, I'm going to have to sign off now. But just so you know: yesterday we spent photographing at her imaginative space and it turned out WONDERFULLY. We are thrilled to share it with you. 

My hope is that we can get this created by Christmas, so that hopefully we'll have a new book for all of you and all of us (don't think I'm not on that waiting list—I want my copy, too!). 

Thank you for all you've done. Thank you to all you folks in the Boise area that have shown up and supported. If all things go according to plan, we'll be back in a month to have a book signing. We hope as many of you as possible can show up to support the ID Creative for the Red Fred Project: the very brave and gregarious Shaelyn Simis.

Dallas & Red Fred

Update #8: It's Jump Time

Dear RFP Backers,

Another Autumn Sunday in Salt Lake City seems to punctuate the gold-lining of this time of year. With a temperature around 61º today, many of us were out in the foothills, enjoying the gorgeous outdoors. I hope your day has been equally beautiful.

I am happy to report that this week marks our OFFICIAL jump into a "sky of hope": we will be meeting our next Creative from ID at the end of this week and we couldn't be more excited about it. I'm going to drive to Meridian, Idaho, Friday at the crack of dawn accompanied by the very talented Miaken Christensen. Miaken filmed our Kickstarter video with Nathan and as such, has known him, the family and the project since the inception. She is going to be documenting our 3 days together on film and keeping the content for future use (we think there's a documentary film worthy of making). 

We have a host family that is offering fantastic accommodations on their property and we will have plenty of space and time to work after our visits with Shaelyn. We see these visits taking about 90 minutes, each day, with specific goals marking our creative workshops. She's already been conjuring her story and I was informed that she has decided the Troopers she wants in it, as well. 

We will leave Meridian on Sunday and get back to Salt Lake City Sunday night, whereon we will be continuing to edit, design, and craft her story. I have found myself sitting eagerly awaiting—wondering what the story will be about... what her bird will look like... what lessons she will decide to share. And I'm very, very excited to share the results of her imaginative direction with you.

We couldn't be at this point without you. Each and every one of you. I won't tire of saying it, but I hope you realize, today—in this moment—that your attention, your care, your interest in seeing this project become a reality has given us the wind to fly by. 

A side note: for those of you that pledged 10+ (see your pledge reward), we still haven't heard back from many of you. We want to send you your profile images with your favorite Trooper. Please let us know and send us an image of you. :) We'll place the Trooper on your image with a dash of silly.

Talk with you again soon. Stay updated on Facebook (search Red Fred Project) or on our website via our blog (redfredproject.com/blog). 


Dallas & Red Fred


Extras with Graham & RFP Trucker Cap

This is my friend Graham Worley-Hood. He jumps out of airplanes and puts out fires that pop up in the wilderness. He's the closest and realest thing to a "Grizzly Adams" as I know. He's also got a huge heart and generosity that reaches the sky. He's recently returned for his 6 months winter hibernation in SLC and all of us are always thrilled to have him back. When I asked if he'd model our new Trucker Cap, he generously agreed (although he did wonder why I picked him). I thought you'd enjoy seeing some of the extra images that we didn't use.


Update #7: Finding Host Families

Hello Red Fred Project Backers!

Autumn has definitely settled in, in Salt Lake City. This morning we woke up to carefree snowflakes, desiring to float and drift instead of sticking. Now, at 3:43p, the sun is out and a crisp, cool air permeate the clean atmosphere.

I wanted to share some interesting developments with you for a moment. 

1. We are scheduled to have our second Skype visit with our California Creative, Jordan, this wk. It'll probably happen near the tail end.

2. We are hoping to schedule our second Skype visit with our Idaho Creative, Shaelyn, this week, too. She just returned from a "Make a Wish" trip, which we are thrilled she was able to have. She sent me a rough draft idea of concept of a story and let me tell you: it's going to be GREAT!

3. I want to be as frugal as possible with our funds for Red Fred Project, so we can get further on what we have raised before we have to go into another round of fundraising. An idea that popped up was having a Host Family to help me out with sleeping/working accommodations. What do I mean? I need to find families / couples / person that have an apartment or living space outside their home where I can work and sleep while visiting the Creative's Family. The space would need wi-fi, a desk and a bed. No frills required. Basic and simple would be fantastic. I'd also like it to be close the Creative's home so we aren't spending too much on travel time between our appointments. The way I'll do this is simply announce, via a update like this, if I need to find a place. I'll definitely check with the Creative's Family first, to see if they have any friends close by that could help out. Beyond that, I'll reach out to you, my incredible friends to see who you know in the areas I'll be traveling. 

4. I'm almost ready to start fulfillments on rewards, too. Believe it or not, it'll take some time (as you can see there are 1,428 of you lovely noses) but I hope to have all those fulfilled within the time we planned (see your reward deadline). A couple of those won't be able to be fulfilled by December, as they are future-coming books (digital versions) of the Creatives. But, as we produce them, we'll do our best to get them to you in a timely manner! And you WILL get them. :) 

5. After I have a chance to speak with both Creatives in ID and CA, I hope to be scheduling my visit to their state, during the later part of November and into December. Wouldn't it be amazing if we had 1 or 2 new books to share by the time Christmas rolled around? No promises, but you can plan on a little "St Nick" magic working inside me. Cross your hearts for me.

More soon! Thanks for all your support!


10 Years Old & Up to Some Good


This is Lainey. She's 10. I've never met her. Today I found out she's holding a bake sale and craft bazaar and donating all the proceeds to the Red Fred Project. Her parents wrote: 

"Since making the commitment to help, Lainey has made a huge mess in our kitchen by spending part of everyday over the last week making crafts, planning baking projects, gathering recipes and organizing her friends and family to help. Lainey will be holding the crafts and bake sale on Friday October 4th from 4:30 to 7:00 PM." 

Children inspiring Children. I'm completely dissolving. 

1521 S Zenith Ave, Salt Lake City UT 84106


Guest Blog for Your Mark On the World

 The idea seemed to come out of nowhere: one second I was peering across the street to a park, buzzing with Saturday morning farmer's market goers and the next second I was asking myself the question: "I wonder if I can make a bird out of a comma…"

I made my way to my make-shift "studio" area of my 600 square foot condo and opened my laptop. Comma. Exclamation marks. Period. Oh… and something for the beak: a less-than symbol, but tweaked a bit. Within 5 minutes, a red bird made entirely from typographical marks, sat in from of me. I sat back in my chair and gazed at him, robustly red against the white screen. "You're going to change my life," I whispered.

That avian-expression of character design and merging symbols took place five years ago. I named him Red Fred Bodoni because, well, he looked like his name should be Red Fred. And "red" is in "fred". The last name? Every gentleman needs one so I pulled it from the typeface he was created from. 

So I made more—more birds made from commas from different typefaces. I call them The Jolly Troop and for the last five years, I have been telling stories with them, in the form of a blog (www.thejollytroop.com). And they love children and adults alike. For five years, I have been working at the craft of short-stories and learning how to convey something worthwhile and important in fewer-than-normal words. It's worked. People enjoy it. People learn. People laugh. People cry. And I get to talk about things that really matter… through birds.

One winter night, in December of 2012, my younger sister phoned me from Seattle and relayed a recently-discovered situation: a friend of ours from childhood had a son with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Our friend's son was dying. We cried and asked each other the same question we all seem to ask when we hear about something like this: "What can we do? What can we possibly do for them? For him?" As we ended our conversation and before I hung up the phone, she whispered to me with fervent belief lined in hope, "I'm not sure what it is, but I think you might be able to do something for him."

As I sat in silence that night thinking about this situation, about the certain uncertainties and about the slippery understanding this life seems to produce time and time again, a star-thought landed in me and it felt distinctly like Red Fred lighting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear: "We want to to make a book with him."

I quickly emailed the family, begging forgiveness if my invitation was encroaching on anything that would seem strange or unethical and at the same time, I stated the truth: children love my birds and my birds love children. When they replied to my email, their kindness poured through their words and they graciously accepted the invitation. 

Three months later, after multiple exchanges and herculean attempts of them trying to meet with me, I received a message that sweet Mitchell was in the final few days and that the family was pulling together to be with him. Days later, thousands witnessed his star's departure into the sky, as the family had been keeping the loving support updated through social media. Thousands grieved and mourned. And so did my birds. 

The desire to create stories, however, burned brighter than ever. That day I determined what exactly I wanted to do: create original, one-of-a-kind stories with children with critical illnesses, self-publish their books and then put it into their hands and say, "Way to go! You did it. You made a book!" Additionally, the proceeds of each printed book would go to the child's/family's medical expenses. 

So that's what I'm doing. I have a goal to create 50 books with 50 children across the 50 states. All these children will have critical illnesses; some of them won't live too much longer; others, hopefully live as full and rich a life as possible, given their physical conditions.

We have our first book completed. My co-creator in this was Nathan Glad, a bright, beaming six year old boy whose body has broken over 250 times due to being born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bones disease). He wrote about facing fear and we entitled his book, Climbing with Tigers. And guess what? Nathan shares two life lessons at the end of his book about what he's learned about life.

If you are a believer in that star-dust material that so easily becomes a child's imagination; if you are sympathetic to the silvery space a family tries to navigate as they move through the challenge of their little one's health complication; if you believe a book really can tell a story for years, then please join me in helping get this project where it needs to be: in the hands of child.


I was asked to as a guest contributor to the blog "Your Mark on the World" curated by Devon D. Thorpe. It's always an honor to be considered to share something you feel is important. Thanks to Devon for seeking us out. The other nice thing being asked to write does is make you condense your words and ideas. It's under 1,000—somewhere in the 800 word count. I hope it gives you a little better understanding of what this thing is all about. 

For Peter

When I asked Catherine why she pledged, this was her response. A beautiful piece she wrote as part of her thesis, a few years back. It hits the very heart of what and why we're doing what we're doing. Thank you, Catherine.


For Peter

I pray morning and night for my nephew Peter, born into great expectations, the first born of my sister Jane whose body finally softened into a miracle—an imperfect miracle, a miracle with a price, a reminder that we may hold life inside us but it’s a mysterious and slippery gift.  Peter arrived all mixed up, with intestines and liver on the outside and a sternum and diaphragm that needed Gore-Tex reinforcement.  Two years in and Peter still lives on tubes, but he lives, still.  The scar splitting his stomach has turned from purple to pink.

After her first ultrasound, Jane called me at work, her broken voice reaching from somewhere dark as she told me of complications that could mean at worst, death, and at best, immediate surgery at birth and an unpredictable recovery.  “Abortion” circled the procedure room like a vicious bird released from the doctor’s mouth, and the beat of its wings tremored Jane’s heart.  Leaning against the brick wall of my office, I listened, powerless.  What could I offer in such a moment?  So I roughly shaped and sent a bird of my own.  Dear father. All I am, all I have, if.  Please, father. If I never want another grace.  Please. 

What does it mean to pray for someone?  What divine threads are wound and bound between those who speak and those who hear and those who are spoken of?  Do my silent words join two fates, or two faiths?  Do my pleadings mark Peter’s spirit like the squiggly scars that mark his body?  Will he wear the story of his birth?  If I had eyes to see, could I read a part of me there?  

Or:——more hesitantly——do prayers matter?

Jane and I both pray for her baby but I have to believe our prayers differ.  Hers are so much older.  To have asked for something so many times you confuse it with breathing.  To have offered to give everything despite knowing all you have is God’s already.  To be heard and answered with a heartbeat sounding against yours, and to learn that what you’re asked to give up is the very thing you desire—a healthy baby.  You’re back to your knees this time asking, Who are you?  

Before Jane and I were born, there had been another Peter, our brother, who died when he was a month old because he had a hole in his heart.  All three brothers started life with a similar glitch: the oldest, Ben, had open-heart surgery when he was four and made the news with Marie Osmond for his unprecedented and successful procedure; and the youngest, David, had a heart that grew back together on its own.  Like some of my sisters, my heart murmurs, beating irregularly, stalling occasionally.  Our hearts fall across a spectrum of broken.  

When my brother died, neighbors bumbling at my mother’s emptiness did not know what to say.  At least I hope that is the case because what they did say—he was too good for this world—turned her bitter toward them and God.  She had prayed give us this day, not thy will be done.  She wanted Peter to get better, wanted to weight him with enough love to hold him here in this world whether he was too good or too sick or too anything.  She wanted him.  And what could be gathered from the necessity of the doll-sized white coffin except that God heard those prayers and chose otherwise, or did not hear at all?  

I am a believer but surprised by the burden my faith must bear.  Again, I ask—, but hesitantly.   

Morning dear father midday dear father night dear father; my days blur in attempts and false starts, ideals half reached for.  The repetition begins to wear and I whisper threadbare.  What grace must lift these mumblings to heaven.  My spirit filters through my mortal frame and so trails the inconstancy and frailty that mark my life.  I try to bring holiness to the table, or at least holy desires; I try for words that voice my stuttering heart.  I try—an imperfect but earnest offering, yet sleep often freezes me in my penitence and I wake up hours later, half of my body asleep, too groggy to resume my communion.  This, even, with so much on the line.  Forgive my debts…

On the day of the ultrasound, calling out to that black bird, Jane named her unborn baby Peter.  She wanted to defy the doctors and anchor him, and a name would validate his existence, his reality, his possibility.  The bond these two Peters shared—fragile and uncertain life derived from our material makeup—was tenuous and risky.  At the same time, I could see Jane reaching for stability, probing with cautious fingers for a firm hold, a rock.

Years from now, Peter won’t remember his birth or his journey to health: he will hear about the months in the hospital and the uncountable prayers as he lies in bed asking for a story, his story, eager to avoid lights out and sweet dreams, and Jane will smile and tell him again how his body worked to live, how he finally started to laugh, and how his healing was her healing.  He won’t remember then as I don’t remember now what it felt like to be the youngest living thing in the world for a pulse or two, exploring the novelty of a shell of skin that breaks and bruises and bleeds.  But maybe he will lift his shirt at recess to prove that, really, he doesn’t have a belly button!, and maybe some kids will recoil to see the grotesque mercy, forgetting that we are all sewn up a thousand times.

So one dies: one lives.  Two birds are always near. 

During the day, Peter stays on my mind; I hear rasping wheezing lurching breath and see his undersized heart bumping his chest like a fist punching from the inside.  My prayers circle, watch, and probe him: I hope they leave a trace, sound a faint flapping, before rising.


Kickoff: First Glance

We had a great time with you, Salt Lake City! That parking lot party will go down in the history books as being the most cheery thing, ever. :) THANK YOU for coming to support our project and THANK YOU for coming to support our man, Nathan! He showed incredible stamina as he stayed the entire time, signing books of all his fans. We are excited about the future and want to give you a glimpse of how we FELT two nights ago. ,&! Dallas

Special thanks to our photographer friend, Stephen Bain: http://facebook.com/sbainphoto