Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 65 - Doug Cornfield - A POUND OF KINDNESS

A big part of what I do is when we put on these sports camps for kids with disabilities, I’ve got to raise all the money for it. Dave and I have committed to never charging a family for our events, even though the costs have gotten pretty, pretty steep.

“A big part of what I do is when we put on these sports camps for kids with disabilities, I’ve got to raise all the money for it. Dave and I have committed to never charging a family for our events, even though the costs have gotten pretty, pretty steep. And so as we’ve been able to raise more money, get more sponsorships, and kind of a salvation thing for us, believe it or not, as I created my own product line. Instead of doing cookies and popcorn like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, I chose raw local honey.”

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JESSE: Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today is a former national champion [??? 01:25] University part of the NCCA. He transferred from there on a full ride to Georgia to be a [??? 01:31] runner. He is the co-founder of Disability, Dreaming, and Do, sometimes referred to as D3 Day. We’ll get into that as we get going. Author of the recent book, I think it just came out last year, A Pound of Kindness, a story about Dave Clark in his childhood, and he’s also working on a new book, which we’re going to talk about. Welcome to the show, Doug Cornfield.

DOUG: Thanks, Jesse. Thanks for having me here. It’s a pleasure.

JESSE: Yeah. Thanks for making adjustments. Anytime we’re doing this like, timezone swap which most people are not in the Central Time Zone with me, it’s always a matter of all right, what time are we actually talking about? Are we all on the same page? Are we all gonna make it? So, yeah, I appreciate you coming to chat with me. I am sure you have a lot going on. Before we got going, you’re telling me, what were you doing this morning, and then we got off track and forgot we were supposed to talk [??? 02:30]

DOUG: So, I mean, basically, we have very limited disability sports camps going on this year. We had seven of them scheduled with minor league teams and one here in Corning. We had already done a football event during the Superbowl where Dave Clark and I were the speakers at an event. You know, they had both side cheerleaders there, and some of the ESPN guys were there, that kind of thing. And so that was really the only event that we’ve done this year. So, it’s a very, very odd year for everything to get canceled.

But a big part of what I do is when we put on these sports camps for kids with disabilities, I’ve got to raise all the money for it. Dave and I have committed to never charging a family for our events, even though the costs have gotten pretty, pretty steep. And so as we’ve been able to raise more money, get more sponsorships, and kind of a salvation thing for us, believe it or not, as I created my own product line. Instead of doing cookies and popcorn like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, I chose a raw local honey.

And you would not believe how much honey we sell to make these camps free and I have two adult children that work with me full time. And we kind of made it a collector’s mug. I cut Dave Clark’s and now Dave Stevens and my children’s book logos into a mug with a handle. We fill it with honey and then we have all sorts of other products; cheese, syrup, my children’s book, of course. And that’s how we continue to raise money so that we never have to charge and families anything for the camps. And so that’s a big part of kind of our small business to support the free camps that we do.

JESSE: That kind of thing probably comes more naturally to both of us, and probably even more so to you than most people. But there’s, I’m sure you’ve probably encountered this growing up, and with your kids, probably you’ve seen it too. It’s just like, there’s all these fundraisers and kids end up selling stuff, and they only get such a small fraction of it.

Versus like, in your case where you’re able to source that product, you can keep a larger proportion to go towards, for you, the camps, but it almost– And maybe it’s a skill set thing, but it just– I see it so much, I’m like, I feel like this could be done better and the kids could sell less, sell things that make more sense to their community and then also benefit more. So, was that just a simple matter of economics or how did that come together?

DOUG: So, when we first started doing the camps, Dave Clark and I, which now go back over 10 years ago, I left the Merrill Lynch office and all sudden, you have these great ideas and you start putting your business plans together and all those kind of things. And then you gotta figure out where does your funding come from? And originally, I put children’s books on my plate, I put movie scripts and documentaries. And things like movies don’t get funded overnight.

And Dave Clark wanted me to do more sports camps. And so all of a sudden, we’re realizing, you know what, I’m flying to Florida and doing camps. We’ve got more, you know, the [??? 05:37] wanted to do camp with us, the [??? 05:38] wanted to do a camp with us. The twins [??? 05:41] a camp. And you know, minor league teams aren’t really necessarily rolling in it. So, we had to figure out how to fund it. And a guy came to me with an idea of doing honey to sell for us. And basically, we put a product together.

One thing led to the other, I didn’t realize how much people loved honey. But I had a great source of quality honey. And so I kind of take a lot of pride. I don’t put anything that’s not great on my tables. Whether it’s my children’s book, whether it’s our honey, our syrup, the cheeses that we have, literally go all the way up to 13 years age, people can’t believe they walk down the street in Corning and find 13 year age cheese staring them in the face. And so we just had to figure it out.

And it was really out of desperation. And Dave Clark correlates that to his story as a professional baseball player that virtually had no use of his legs, playing on crutches. He calls the knuckleball his desperation pitch.

And so our honey was our desperation pitch of you know what, these camps are costing us a lot of money. And then I realized we could sell in a weekend, in the beginning, I sold two or $3,000 one time at a little event in a weekend. And I’m like, holy crap, how do we do more of this?

And so it just kind of added from there and we tend to do a big fundraiser that’s– I say big, it’s not huge, but we do it at our local mall at Christmas time. Because nobody wants to see you as a business person during Christmas time, and so we spend the six weeks at our local mall, it’s about 10-15 minutes away.

And now people know us for our local products. And so people actually come and search us out. And so it’s gotten really interesting from there. Hopefully, you don’t hear my granddaughter in the background here. But that makes our Zoom meetings more interesting when we’re at home doing this stuff. So, that’s kind of the nutshell. Long story, it was a desperation thing and we needed a constant revenue, and believe it, honey became our constant revenue.

JESSE: It’s one of those things where I think about and I didn’t know whether we had talked about the possibility of Dave joining us so I don’t know whether we would talk with him or not, not a big deal. But when I think about it, Dave, his story, maybe the things he talked about, you’re talking about this situation, I always think about when there’s a problem or where there’s an obstacle, there’s often an opportunity. You know, when you say, we can’t do this or this is a problem, and this thing is going to happen, or we’re going to run into this wall, I feel like sometimes, some people will shut down and just be like, well, that’s it.

Like, it’s over with. And then other people will say, oh, okay, this is our goal. How can we achieve it? Yeah, we can’t do that. That’s a brick wall. But can we go onto the wall? Can we go over the wall? Can we get a sledgehammer and knock through the wall? Like, what can we do to get through that?

DOUG: That kind of leads into one of our mottos with the sports camps that we do. And I probably wouldn’t be sane if it weren’t for this statement that I’m going to tell you. When you’re dealing with somewhere up to 100 families with different disabilities, different situations, from intellectual to physical needs, to all sorts of different situations; the crazy part of it is there’s a lot of problems.

And I want people to feel relaxed. And really, this statement comes from a friend of mine who is a contractor, construction guy, and he was helping me remodel my own basement. This is several years ago. And I’ve done some construction work, but you know, I’m not the best.

And so, I was helping him remodel my own basement and I was afraid to make mistakes. And he came out, he told me the saying, and I think other people have used, it’s even in a John Lennon song, “No problems, just solutions.” And it freed me up to help him more. Because so what if I make a mistake? He’ll fix it or we’ll fix it. And so at the camps, I try to correlate that, “No problems, just solutions.” Because we’ve run into some significant problems. And when we have those problems, I take a deep breath and try not to get riled by the problem and immediately saying, okay, what are our solutions?

What can we do here? And then you have a story like Dave Clark, my other Dave, Dave Stevens, and my son, Gideon, I have a son who was born with neither arm developed. And so you put all that together and okay, these are a problem. But let’s not focus on the problem. Let’s figure out what you can do. Let’s figure out what our situation is. And so what you just said leads into exactly what we kind of want to have people feel at our sports camps, but also how we have to respond and act as well.

JESSE: Now is that about a matter of you have the sports camps but are you– I assume you’re not just teaching sports. It seems like you’re an example of this as well as Dave. So, even though it’s– The book you wrote is like a story from Dave’s childhood. And a lot of I’ll say the press centers around Dave. I still think you have an example of this too, where it’s just teaching a– I’ll call it a philosophy or a way of thinking. Is that what’s going on at the camp and the sports is just the wrapping?

DOUG: Yes. You know, as we’ve been able to kind of analyze what happens at our sports camps, it gets very multifaceted. Because it’s not just, we’re just playing baseball. If it was just about, hey, we’re playing baseball with kids with limitations, disabilities, whatever you want to call it, special needs, then it’d be cool. But that’s not really what’s going on. What’s going on is so much bigger, so much broader. I mean, first off, I’m a parent with a child with limitations.

So, I can relate to these families in a way that not everybody can. And so that’s one angle that we’re looking at. And so because of me, most of the messaging actually. it’s toward the parents and the caregiver. It’s not toward the participants who just want to get out there and play. And I can give you some examples.

And then I’m bringing Dave Clark and Dave Stevens to the play, who are guys that had some serious blows either as Dave as a 10-month-old getting polio, Dave Clark and Dave Stevens being born with neither leg. And both of those men, what they’ve gone on to accomplish in spite of their situations is an incredible opportunity for me to let these parents know that just because you have a child with special needs, doesn’t mean they’re not gonna have a great life, doesn’t mean they can’t be successful.

They might have to do it differently. They might have to walk, talk, act, think outside the box; all those kinds of things. But until they try, they’re not going to know.

And so our messaging is very in line with that. And kind of one of the examples that I use often is that we have parents that come up to us after the camp or I’ll even hear it during the camp, where they’ll tell me, I didn’t know my son or daughter could do that. And the bottom line is because they were never given a chance, they would just immediately oh, they have this disability.

They can’t hit a ball, they can’t throw a ball. And so they find out very differently, and then I think it opens up their minds by hearing our stories kind of cultivate into the camp. And just to kind of then go on the other level.

One of my favorite things is when I’m bringing Dave Clark and Dave Stevens into the locker room with these young pro players. Typically, it’s Single-A to Triple-A is where we are focused, and we’re in like a spring training locker room down in Florida or the Double-A Mets [??? 13:54] we’ve even had Tim Tebow at our camps, that kind of thing.

And here, I’m bringing in this guy, he’s 60, now 67 years old. He’s pulling up in a scooter, gets up on his crutches, and tells people about his 10-year career pitching in the minor leagues. And these guys get pretty bright-eyed.

But Dave, that’s probably his best element when I’m talking about Dave, Dave Clark at this point, because he connects with these players because he knows what it’s like to be on the road, to be underpaid. They think all these minor league guys are getting paid incredibly well.

I mean, they’re working 20 hours a day, basically, because their whole life is baseball. They don’t get a break. And, yes, they’re treated well at that double-A, Single-A, Triple-A level, compared to probably what Dave Clark had. But it’s a grind and Dave can relate to them.

And then these players get to find out about this guy that overcame, and then they get to go out and participate and see how privileged they really are, and how fortunate. Maybe not privileged is the right word because they’ve worked hard to get to where they are. But they’re very fortunate. And it’s a privilege to be at the level that they’re at. And I think they get to experience that very deeply at our camps.

JESSE: Sometimes I think it’s easy, and this– I think this goes for anybody, regardless of whether we’re talking about somebody with limitations or somebody who’s able-bodied. I think it’s easy to become complacent with the things you have. It’s this balance between the struggle and the drive for more, and also being grateful for the things that you already have. Right? Because it’s like– I mean, especially those guys who want to make it two majors.

I mean, there wouldn’t be out there doing the grind if they didn’t want to make it. So, it’s like, there’s that singular focus, but then also the ability to forget about like, I have the physical ability. I had the background that helped me get here. I was able to spend all the time and put in all the effort. So, yeah, sometimes it’s tough to keep in mind how fortunate each one of us is, in our own ways for the various talents and opportunities we’ve had come our way.

DOUG: Right. Well, we see families, and this doesn’t happen as much anymore because we have 80 to 100 families that are participants, so we can’t run them all through the locker rooms and things like that. But every once in a while, there’s a kid that gets taken into the locker room or the family gets taken in the locker room or I’ll bring one of my sponsors who’s a local business person into the locker room, and they get so excited about going to in this professional locker room like it’s going to Disneyland.

But as a player, they don’t realize what a privilege it is to be in the inner circle. And I think our event and meeting Dave and my other Dave, we’ve kind of hone that into these young pro players and say it’s a privilege to be where you are fellas, and it’s not gonna last forever. So, remember it and work it all the way up as far and take it as far as you can. But just remember, it’s a privilege to be in this locker room. So, it’s interesting.

JESSE: Yeah. So, I kinda want to back up a little bit and trying to figure out how did you come about to meet Dave in the beginning? So, I mean, how did that all come together?

DOUG: Sometimes I think we met each other in past lives because it’s kind of one of those things because it’s kind of crazy, to be honest. And even to be doing what I’m doing and traveling all over the country with them. You know, I’m on the phone almost every day. You know, we’re talking about something whether it’s personal or business. But basically I was living in Atlanta because I’ve been a Georgia Bulldog.

I had five kids in the 90s in Atlanta. And my fifth child was born with neither arm developed, as I mentioned earlier. And so he was pretty young at the time, 2000 he was about one and a half years old. And we were moving our family back to Corning, New York, where my wife and I met and where she grew up.

And during that transition, of moving a family of seven, I was studying for my series seven at Merrill Lynch at the time. Okay. And so I was doing the back and forth thing flying back and forth between Atlanta and Corning while my wife was getting ready to move all that stuff. I was looking for a place to live and whatever and studying. And while I was studying, I was reading a newspaper article.

And Dave Clark had gotten the heroes of Sports award in I think, 1999 but this was an article in 2000. And somehow I’m reading this article, I think it was in the Atlanta Journal or Atlanta Constitution. And it’s talking about this guy who played professional baseball on crutches. And I grew up in the athletic world.

My father was a world-class runner. You already know I was at Georgia and I played basketball. I did all the sports. That’s kind of how we grew up and played fastpitch softball. You know, we wanted to play everything. And I knew sports. I mean, I got to meet people like Jesse Owens, and OJ Simpson, and Bruce Jenner when he was still Bruce, and all those kinds of things as a kid, and that was kind of the norm for me.

And so when I’m finding out there’s a baseball player that played professional baseball on crutches, I’m like, okay, what gimmick was this? What was it? I don’t get it, I don’t understand. And then to make the story even more crazy, it said he was from Corning, New York, which was my wife’s home town. And that made less sense.

And so I remember going into my office and talking to my older brother Kurt and I said, “Hey, who’s this Dave Clark guy? Do you know this Dave?” He goes, “Yeah, yeah. I know Dave.” And my brother used to be the director of the local YMCA here before he was at Merrill Lynch. And just kind of a long story short, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I gotta probably meet this guy.”

And you know, and at that time, I was hunting for new clients, as well, as I was very intrigued his this story. So, I had multiple reasons to kind of try to network and contact him. And I went to a baseball game that he was coaching locally. Dave had just finished a 10-year career of pitching in the major leagues or coaching in the major leagues of Sweden.

He was a three-time manager, championship coach, but he retired from that and he moved back to Corning, the same year I was moving to Corning. And he was just a part-time coach at a local professional team, about 20 minutes away in Elmira, New York. And he was just [??? 21:01] home. He was just a pitching coach when they were at home and I think he was scouting for the San Diego Padres at the time.

And I had my son Gideon, I believe in my arms. And after the game, I went over to the dugout, and asked Dave, if he had a minute, and he wound up coming out and talking to me, I don’t know, five or 10 minutes or so. Enough to get a cell phone number, and we set up a breakfast meeting. And so we had a breakfast meeting a few weeks after that.

The one thing that I can remember about the breakfast meeting that I tell people is that when we got done, Dave shared with me that nobody had ever asked him questions like I was asking. And I think the reason for that is because I was asking him questions about what his parents did. I wanted to know what his parents did. And I had a child that was one and a half at the time that you don’t know how that’s going to progress.

He’s got significant limitations. I wanted to know, principles of what Dave’s parents did and then that forged a friendship. And then I got to know more about his story. I couldn’t believe his story. I still call it the greatest mostly unknown sports story for those that don’t know the story. It’s wacky crazy. And then, of course, I start getting this should be a movie and this should be this and this should be that. And instead of just dreaming about it, I started working on those things.

JESSE: See, it reminds me of, I don’t know why I just blanked on his name, a previous guess I’ve had who was born without one of his legs and he trained to become– he didn’t quite make it. He was training to become a Paralympic swimmer. And I think he was talking about himself. Maybe he was telling me about another person.

But I believe you mentioned again, hopefully, my memory’s not faulty that he wasn’t treated, like his parents didn’t treat him really any different. It’s like, you’ve got to navigate the world just like anybody else has to navigate the world. Yeah, you don’t have that limb, like everybody else does. But that isn’t an excuse to feel sorry for yourself, you still have the ability to go out there. But in his case, swim, be the best swimmer he can be, all that kind of stuff. So, I’m curious if you could share, I guess what, Dave, maybe shared with you and what you do.

DOUG: Very similar. First off, big messaging is don’t hold your children back just because they have limitations. But every situation is different there. You’ve got kids with intellectual situations that we’re dealing with. You have physical, you have both. And so, obviously, don’t let a child go who’s just going to walk into the middle of the street and get hit by a car. But on the other hand, and it’s easier coming from Dave here, because he is the guy that lost the use of his legs to polio.

So, when he shares it, I think it has a lot more weight when he tells the parents, hey, let the leash go a little bit. They might fall, they might even get hurt a little bit. But chances are, we’re going to be able to brush that off, and it’s going to get better, but they’re going to learn, it’s not about the fall, it’s about how you get up.

And so not a lot of people talk about those kind of principles. But when you’re a parent with a child with differences, it’s a little harder to let that leash go. And so that was definitely one of the principles. And then the other thing that Dave Clark, and this was one of the goals my wife and I really had for Gideon, specifically, my son, is that we want Gideon to have the ability to make others around him feel comfortable. Because yeah, people are gonna stare. Kids are going to come up and say, “What happened to your arms?” And [??? 25:00] this all the time.

JESSE: Yeah, kids have no filters.

DOUG: Yeah. And of course, then the parents get horrified and they’re like telling their child to shut up. And we kind of take a different approach, and Gideon’s become very good at this and Dave Clark is very good at this, where you become very comfortable in almost don’t even see the disability after a very short time. It’s like, it’s not even there. And that’s definitely one thing with Dave was a shining example, for me and for us, because he’s so… And part of that personality too. But it’s also a mindset of how you gotta think.

And you don’t get offended if somebody says the wrong thing. You don’t get upset if a child comes up and says, “Hey, what happened to your arms?” You know, because it’s a child. They’re not like being mean. And so being able to filter that out and know what’s mean and what’s not mean. And I think Gideon as he’s become a man now, he’s 22 years old, he’s very, very good at communicating comfort to people very quickly. And so that was a great thing that we learned [??? 26:14] from Dave.

JESSE: Is there a specific strategy that Dave or your son uses? I know, again I can’t remember who this was. This is not my guest but I remember someone speaking about basically using humor as a way to defuse a situation and they were very quick-witted about it. And that’s how they made people kind of relax. Is it just a matter of just be yourself and don’t worry about it?

DOUG: I think what is the most impressive thing that I know about Dave Clark and I can say my son Gideon, is that they’re just real. And being real, is the key. If somebody says something that hurts your feelings or you don’t like the way they said it, it’s hard not to be real. It’s hard to say there’s a– I don’t know if we can swear on this show or whatever, but–

JESSE: Yeah, it’s fine.

DOUG: And this is just a true story. Dave was in the stadium, in a packed out stadium and this is in the mid-70s. And he goes into become a relief pitcher and there was basically a loudmouth fan, the roughneck fan or whatever, probably had his [??? 27:30] beater shirt on that kind of thing. And when Dave comes into this, coming out to be the relief pitcher off his crutches.

This guy’s yelling so everybody can hear it, “Knock the cripple bastard out.” And of course, he didn’t like that so much. And of course, he wound up trying to hide in his glove and doing the middle finger salute to the crowd, and of course, it didn’t go over so well because it was a white crowd. And basically, so I mean, he doesn’t like that kind of treatment.

And part of one of the things that’s a fine line that Dave liked is when he got treated like any of the other players. Like when we got brushed back when he was at the play, he would get– somebody would come inside when he was batting.

We actually have an example of that, a guy that we talked to here recently that saw Dave play and he got mad because he saw somebody brushing Dave back and his crutches are flying everywhere. And Dave like, “Oh, no, no, I liked it when they wanted to… They were giving me everything they had, and that’s what I want.” They basically– there’s different perspectives there. But humor, Dave is very humorous. So, we can joke around.

Gideon, he’s very humorous. We don’t get caught up into the verbiage of you know, there’s words that you can say or you don’t– If you call get in the armless boy, we’re not going to get upset. Some people would because that’s not the correct sentence these days.

The correct sentence is Gideon was born with no arms, you always put the person first. We tend not to get too– You get semantics on all those kinds of things and it’s kind of don’t get too– don’t major on the minors kind of scenario. Yeah. So, that’s what we’re dealing with there.

JESSE: At least from a– I don’t have a lot of personal experience. So, take that for what it is. But when you’re talking about semantics. It seems like not worrying about it comes from a place of thinking about ignorance versus maliciousness. Like often, it’s probably We’re going to come from a place of ignorance rather than somebody trying to be mean. They just don’t know what would be the preferential way to say something.

DOUG: Yeah. And there’s fine lines with all this stuff and obviously, we’re living in a world where we don’t even know what to say. That can be considered politically incorrect or whatever, and I don’t need to give examples because probably everybody has their own. But I think we need to unwind and not be so uptight. People my age, we were told sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. And today, everybody’s getting all caught up about some words, and I’m not worried about the words.

Because I can choose to let those words pass by. I don’t like bullying. That’s why I wrote a story about, my story is anti-bullying in my children’s book. Dave doesn’t like bullying. He didn’t like the bullies. He remembers the bullies. As a child with crutches and braces, he remembers them by name. He didn’t forget them. But he also didn’t forget the people that helped him. And so people gotta remember that those are two things you’re going to remember in life, the people that really treated terribly, and the people that were kind to you.

JESSE: So, A Pound of Kindness, that’s Dave’s story from when he was younger, right?

DOUG: So, it is. The story happened when he was in first grade. And it’s one of those stories that Dave I think the first time he shared it publicly, I’d gotten him a speaking event at the National Consortium of Academics and Sports. He was on a panel for diversity, it was a pretty big thing in Orlando at the then Peabody Hotel and Richard Lapchick Organization.

You can Google Richard Lapchick, he runs the National Consortium of Academics and Sports. And Dave was on this panel and they wanted him to speak 20 minutes before the meeting started. People like Jeremy Schaap were there. I mean it was pretty big, whatever, connected meeting. And Dave, this is when Dave used to get up with notes in his hands. And no kind of keynote situation with multimedia and things like that, like you speak with now.

But he literally got up with notes in his hands and shared three stories. And one of them was the story that we now tell all the time. And basically, if we can flashback to 1958, you got this little boy that’s realized that he’s different when he’s in school. Because really up until he was in school, he was never made to feel different. You know, his parents didn’t make him feel different. His brothers didn’t make him feel different. And now he goes to school, and he’s different. All the other kids aren’t wearing crutches and braces. And he had those like very heavy metal leather braces like Forrest Gump. [??? 32:57]. Okay. So, very heavy.

And his first grade teacher announces a field trip where the whole class [??? 33:05] five blocks away to the firehouse. So, for most kids back then, and even today I found, being a fireman is one of the top things that boys still want to be and girls still want to be today. So, kids are excited about going to the firehouse in 1958 in first grade when they’re six years old, but not Dave.

And he was not excited because he knew he was not going to be able to keep up. He knew he was going to get left behind, and he probably knew he was going to get bullied. His classmates were already doing things like calling him olio which rhymes with polio. And Dave just couldn’t– obviously those are things that are not fun memories.

So, we flash forward, he had about two weeks to dread this coming field trip of being left behind and it’s so much anxiety that he clearly remembers even trying to act sick the morning of the event with his mom. But as he would say, his mom was a tough old lady and was old school and basically, she said, “Dave, you’re not sick. Get the school and get the school now.”

And so off to school he goes and he’s got all this anxiety building up. And when the teacher is– teacher, Mrs. Lewis finally called the class to get in line, Dave remembers going to the back of the line thinking this is going to be the worst day of my life.

And lo and behold, as it gets in line, one of his classmates and Dave never forgot his name. His name is Ernie Pound. And Ernie brought his radio flyer wagon to school that day to pull him. And Dave simply never forgot that act of kindness. You can kind of see it in my background here. And Dave told that story at this National Consortium of Academics and Sports.

And you could have heard a pin drop. But where Dave gets super emotional when he shares the story even as many times as he’s now shared this story, because where I come in is when Dave wrote a book on his life, it’s called the Diamond in the Rough: The Dave Clark Story. So, when he wrote that book with a local author, I was his financial advisor at the time, and I was helping him get book signings in the area.

And I was just doing these book signings just out of the– because I love his story, we’d become friends by now. I was actually pushing him to write the story. And so I’m setting up these book signings, and I’m rereading the book while I’m doing that in my office on some break times.

And in chapter two is when he shares the story, any thanks, Ernie Pound. Well, every time I had read it, and this is probably not the first time, wasn’t the first time I would get the goosebumps. As a father with a child with limitations, I’m sitting here, and then I’m like, I’ve got to find this Ernie Pound. And wound up going to the phonebook [??? 35:57] probably the last time I’ve ever gone to a phonebook.

And I found an Ernst Pounds in the phonebook, living about 45 minutes away from here. And had one of those awkward phone calls because back then I think it would have probably said Merrill Lynch on his caller ID. He was not wanting to talk to me because I asked, I said, “Is Ernie Pound there?” And somebody goes and gets him.

And I started telling him that if this is the Ernie Pound that went to kindergarten or first grade in Corning, that he’s thanked in a book for something he might not remember. And what he told me on that phone conversation was that he remembered the radio flyer wagon. But his family had left the area in first grade, after first grade. And Dave and he had not seen each other in 45 years.

And in that timeframe, you know, they both went on their separate ways. And so on, Ernie wound up coming to a book signing completely unknown to Dave, put a book underneath Dave’s nose at the coffee shop that we were at, and says “Sign this one to Ernie Pound.” And you could have, the emotions got pretty raw and thick.

And every time Dave even tries to share about the reunion, he– Actually now at our speaking engagements, I usually talk about their union because he’s tired of crying [??? 37:23], ‘cause he’s a wuss now. He’s 67 years of age. And so, anyway, so that story, we’ve been telling it so much, and I knew– I actually have a background in the children’s entertainment world in the 90s when I was in Atlanta. And so I just felt like it’s always about the story.

The story is teaching kindness, it’s teaching– It’s an anti-bullying story and it teaches inclusion, the importance of inclusion, and how it makes people feel. And it’s such a simple thing. The little boy brought a wagon but it was never forgotten. And so because His name’s Ernie Pound, we came up with the title A Pound of Kindness. Yeah.

JESSE: It’s a good story. So, how’s distribution going so far, I guess?

DOUG: So, we printed like 4,000 last year and I’m down to maybe a couple hundred books right now. We were on a roll. I’d probably be printing more right now if it weren’t for COVID because we were actually getting into some schools. Schools were hiring us to come. They were buying 500 books in some cases at a time. All that’s been on pause. So, we’ve got one speaking event in October at a college. I don’t know how many books we’ll sell at the college.

But we also spoke at one of the biggest, largest disability conventions in the country last year in Orlando. And so it is called The Family Cafe. It’s like 15,000 people that go to that convention. Dave and I were the final keynotes, specifically talking about this book. And so we were shedding a few hundred books every time we did something like that. But we want to sell millions, we don’t want to sell 4,000.

JESSE: Right. Well, I mean, you gotta start somewhere.

DOUG: That’s correct.

JESSE: And from what I’ve read about you, I feel like it’s only a matter of time, really.

DOUG: I hope so, I hope you’re right.

JESSE: Seems like you’ve got both plenty of hustle and plenty of brains, so that’s always a good combination.

DOUG: Well, sometimes I wonder anymore because things that I thought would be like no brainers turn out to be nothing. And things that you wouldn’t have ever thought of like selling honey to make your living so that you can do these things come your way, and then you run with it. But I am planning on doing some more children’s books. I don’t even have to make these stories up, I just have to package them well.

JESSE: Right. Right. So, you were saying you’ve got a new book coming up. Can you tell me all about that or…?

DOUG: So, it’s curtailed off of the theme of Pound of Kindness. Dave and I started an award based on this story like 10 years ago, it’s called Pulling Each Other Along Award. And it literally goes to children or not just the children, any age person, but somebody that’s helping somebody in the disability community. And so when we go to a minor league baseball field or we do a speaking event, oftentimes before that event, we have nominations for our award.

And in giving out that award, it goes to somebody that’s deserving of the Pulling Each Other Along Award. And so I got this message during COVID, early on in COVID about us, somebody wanting us to be a part of his book, a chapter in his book to talk about Dave and talk about Disability, Dream, and Do, whatever. His name’s Todd [??? 40:46]. He wrote the book for [???? 40:47].

So, people that know the…out there in that story. And so he knew of our story, and we’ve known each other for a while. And he wanted me to be a part of this book. And so I asked Todd, I said, Todd, how far along are you in the book? Because in my business plan, I have something almost identical to this. And he goes, shoot, tell me what it is.

And so I told him and I said, I don’t want to just do chapters on inspirational people. I want to do chapters on inspirational people talking about what was it that pulled them along. What was it that helped them? What was it that got them through? And so right now we’re pushing a book that’s going to be somewhere– It’s going to land somewhere between 20 and 25 chapters of amazing stories.

People like Rocky Bleier is one of the ones that I can now mention because his chapter’s– we’ve already interviewed Rocky and he’s on board. And we’re doing another chapter on Leonard Tose who was the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. His granddaughter Marty Schneider is writing a chapter about the impact that her grandfather had not because he was a coach of the Eagles or the owner of the Eagles. It’s because he started the first [??? 42:00] McDonald’s.

And so it’s stories like that and we’ve got people with missing legs, military guys, their stories. We’ve got a story of a woman named Auti Angel, who is a dancer, that’s one of the premier dancers on wheelchairs. But it’s not all disabilities either. It’s kind of a whole hybrid of, of stories of famous, semi-famous stories you would know, stories you wouldn’t know. But taking another angle of it and saying, okay, Rocky Bleier we know you have this incredible story, [??? 42:35] one-two punch in the 70s. Are you familiar with Rocky Bleier’s story?

JESSE: No, I’m not.

DOUG: Okay. So, Rocky was a great Notre Dame running back and during or sometime during his rookie season with the Steelers was drafted to Vietnam. And took a bullet and a grenade into his leg and actually lost a portion of his foot and wound up coming back. And holds four Super Bowl rings is one of the great one-two tandems in running back history.

Amazing, amazing man. And there was actually made for television movies. So, anybody my age, they know the Rocky Bleier story. And when I met Rocky a couple years ago, and we became literally friends because of what we do and all that stuff.

And I asked him, I said, “Hey, Rocky, would you be interested in talking about what pulled you along?” And he gave us an interview that was literally bone chewing, the situations. And so we’re putting that together, that’ll be one of the chapters. And I could go on and on because these chapters are pretty exciting. They’re called Pulling Each Other Along, Book One.

I literally went– I had about 50 names to call. I got through about 15, and I had to stop calling because we already had more chapters than I wanted for the first book. So, that’s where we are.

JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like [??? 44:03] self busy. As we’re starting to run a little short on time, this is a question– So, I’m asking everybody the same question this year because it transcends sports and people. But I think it’s especially poignant for you and maybe Dave as well. I’m asking everybody, what do you think the purpose of sport is?

DOUG: You know, for me, it was a passion growing up. I mean, whether it was playing Little League– wiffle ball in the backyard with my older brothers. We would keep our stats so you can say we were having math lessons. I mean, there’s so many things that we did. But for me, it was also all right. You gotta do one, two, three. You can be good, you can be athletic, but you get to a certain level where you gotta be athletic and you gotta work hard.

And then you’re gonna go against guys that are just as talented as you are, or more talented than you are, that are working harder. But competition, if we don’t keep competition going in our country, our country will fail.

And I think sports is a wonderful training ground. And I know this has been stated and I don’t want to get political because that’s– Dave and I, we stay completely out of the politics of this world. But the whole process of what kind of happened where everybody wins, and you gotta give a trophy to everybody and that mentality, I hope we get away from that. There’s a time for that. There’s a time to always be encouraging and it’s not always about winning.

But sometimes, we have to learn how to lose so that we can win more the next time. So, losing is a wonderful lesson. I didn’t win every track meet. I didn’t win every basketball game. I don’t like to lose. I thought I was competitive until I met people like Dave Clark, and then I realized how uncompetitive I was compared to people like him.

And so we learned so much, we learned camaraderie, we learned how to work together. Even in things like track and field. You would think that’s not a team sport. But my college team, we were very much a team sport. We were very much pulling each other along. We were helping each other. We were encouraging each other. We were working out together. Yes, we were racing against each other at times, too. However, we were teammates and pushing each other and I don’t think of a– For me personally, that was more of a learning lesson than anything I got in the classroom.

That’s for me. But some people, it’s music, and I have a music background a bit too. And you have to practice those things. You have to learn those things. And I think all of the arts and it culminates into a more well-rounded life. And to me, sports is very, very important.

On the other side of it, it’s not everything. And it’s not everything for everybody. And we even try to make that case at our Disability, Dream, and Do sports camps. It might not be baseball, or football or basketball or track or whatever that your child is going to succeed in, but whatever that is, whatever they want to do, let them see how far they can take it and don’t hold them back from it.

But I think for me, sports was, that was the easy thing. I was fairly athletic, I come from an athletic family. We were competitive, whether it was playing pick up sticks against my brothers, man, we wanted to win. And winning and that desire to win makes you better.

JESSE: Yeah, yeah. Doug, if people want to find the book, see what you and Dave are up to, any of that kind of stuff; where can people find all that?

DOUG: Yeah. So, the book, the best place to go to order the books or books right now, and we have a coloring book that goes along with our children’s book that you can’t get on Amazon, you can get the children’s book on Amazon. But basically, they take all the money and we don’t like Amazon. So, I said that [??? 49:08]. But is the best place to go.

And if you use D3 Day as your promo code, they would get free shipping at least. They don’t have to put that in there because literally these are how we raise money for our sports camps. You can get Dave’s book on there, you get a combo, there’s a collection. Obviously, go to

And then if you want to learn more about the sports camps specifically, go to That’s the best place. Although, it’s not really updated right now. We only have one event that we’re working on and it’s in conjunction with the Hartford Yard Goats, but we have to do it very differently, you know, with all the COVID specifications and much smaller.

We’re limiting it to 25 people. And literally, that’s one of the things I had to come home to do is send out the email invite. We just got the website. We’re working in conjunction with the Miracle League in Hartford for this particular camp.

JESSE: People will be more active once we get the COVID stuff wrapped up again.

DOUG: People who are still listening, D3 Day, and A Pound of are the places to go get our stuff.

JESSE: Sounds great. Thanks for hanging out with me today, Doug.

DOUG: Thanks, Jesse. Hopefully, get to meet with you and talk with you soon.

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