In the spring of 2003, Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole traveled to Africa in search of a story to change the world. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these three boys from Southern California found themselves stranded in Northern Uganda. What they found was a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them; they found a story where children are the weapons and the victims. They discovered children being abducted from their homes and forced to fight as child soldiers. The “Invisible Children: Rough Cut” film exposes the effects of a 20-year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. They originally screened the film in June 2004 for friends and family and soon expanded to high schools, colleges and religious institutions. From suburban living rooms to Capitol Hill, with coverage on Oprah, CNN, the National Geographic Channel, and more, this film has taken on a life of its own. Today, an estimated 1.5 million people have seen and been impacted by the film, all due to the efforts of those on the grassroots level. In September 2004, the non-profit, Invisible Children, Inc. was born from the film. It has grown to become the awareness, mobilization, and fundraising effort taking place throughout America and other countries around the world by people who are inspired to act. Through letters to Congress and inspirational art projects, the voices of many were heard across the world. Invisible Children’s vision is to change culture, policy and lives through collisions of power and poverty. It is Invisible Children’s belief that we need to live for more, because the invisible children need more to live.
Daunte Culpepper is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. He is personally committed to finding permanent homes for foster children of color and has worked to dispel pervasive misconceptions about adopting African American boys by speaking openly about his experience as an adopted child. Professionally, Daunte joined the Miami Dolphins in 2006 after an outstanding career with the Minnesota Vikings. During his tenure with the Vikings, he became one of the highest ranked passers in NFL history, was selected to three Pro Bowls, and led the team to an NFC Championship Game appearance. He is looking to continue that success with the Dolphins and already has earned a leadership position with the team with his work ethic, pride, and enthusiasm both on and off the field. Culpepper credits much of his success to his adopted mother, Emma Culpepper, who adopted him when he was one day old and raised him as the last of her 15 foster children. With Emma’s strong support, guidance and love, Daunte went on to achieve great things. Following in Emma’s footsteps, Daunte himself has turned to adoption. In addition to their five kids, he and his wife adopted Daunte’s nephew. Because of Emma’s dedication and Daunte’s belief in adoption, he wanted to give back to the greater community. When he signed with the Minnesota Vikings, he started looking for a charity where he could donate his time and money. “I wanted to work with foster and adopted kids,” Daunte said. “I was blessed to be adopted when I was 1 day old. It’s not always that way for all kids, especially the older kids.” Daunte was the spokesperson for the African American Adoption Agency during his time in Minnesota and continues as a role model to the families and children they serve. Now that he has joined the Dolphins, Daunte hopes to bring that same message to the South Florida community. “I’m very lucky to have been adopted,” Daunte said. “Whenever I can, I let people know about adoption.”
Darryl DMC McDaniels
Hip hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels is a multi-platinum recording artist of Run-DMC. His rise to success and fame led him to write an autobiography when he was just 35 years old. It was while gathering information for his book that he found out from his mother that he was adopted. Amid the emotional turmoil, McDaniels wanted answers about his true history. In October, 2005, VH1 featured McDaniels’ search for his biological roots, as well as his spiritual journey of self-discovery. While taping, McDaniels approached his musical hero, Sarah McLachlan, to revive the classic song, “Cats in the Cradle.” McLachlan agreed and let him in on a secret that cements their connection: she is adopted. McDaniels’ interpretation of Cats in the Cradle takes a song about regret and flips it into a positive message to adopted children everywhere- you’re not alone. McDaniels’ dedication to adoptees transcends self promotion. In 2006, he joined forces with casting director and fellow adoptee, Sheila Jaffe, to form Camp Felix. Camp Felix is for children growing up without parental support with a mission to give these children new opportunities and adventures. It is their joint mission to plant a seed of hope for children who have been neglected and abandoned by their parents; children who, in the absence of the support of a nurturing family, need caring experts to help them grow to be strong, independent, successful adults. Darryl McDaniels’ life has begun.