Students at the University of Mount Union realized the impact that keeping a single promise can make after learning about the Because I Said I Would movement.
Founder of Because I Said I Would Alex Sheen presented at 8 p.m., Monday, October 28 in Presser Hall. The Hall was overflowing while students resorted to spots along the wall and floor to hear Sheen speak, a result of a promise kept.
“I promised to myself to do everything in my power to fill that room,” stated Professor Mark McConnell.
The Because I Said I Would movement emphasizes how important a written promise can be. The idea is to write down your promise on a “promise card” and hand the card over to someone. When you fulfill your commitment, you get the promise card back as a reminder that you are a person of your word.
“Keeping a promise can make the world a better place,” stated Sheen.
The movement began after Sheen’s father passed away with small cell cancer in September 2012. Knowing the positive affect his father had by always keeping his promises, Sheen was inspired to better the world through promises.
“I want to remember [my father] by the way he lived, by his promises that he promised me, his son,” Sheen said.
Sheen began by creating a simple Facebook page and has since sent over 150,000 promise cards to 48 countries around the world, including 25 cards sent to President Obama.
“Turns out, you shouldn’t send a package that says ‘because I said I would’ to the President,” Sheen joked.
Sheen soon began receiving photos and letters with others’ promises. Promises ranged from a little girl vowing to sleep in her own bed to heavier promises, such as ‘I will always fight heroin.’
Mount Union student Cody Shearrow became involved with the movement, promising to become the best oncologist he could be. Shearrow was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of five and was inspired by Sheen to help others like him.
After receiving a touching letter about how Because I Said I Would saved a young girl’s life, Sheen gained the strength he needed to quit his job in order to focus solely on the movement.
Instead of making promises only to himself, Sheen turned to helping others with his promises.
“What would test how much I cared?” Sheen asked himself.
He helped victims of Hurricane Sandy, raised money for over 100 tickets to Disneyland for children diagnosed with cancer and walked over 245 miles in 10 days to stand against sexual violence, as a promise to Ariel Castro’s victims. While Sheen mostly walked alone in these 10 days, he had a great amount of time to think.
“Why did you make that commitment? Why did you promise?” he asked himself. “When you have a strong why, you can be strong,” stated Sheen.
Junior Mackenzie Shivers, Raider Relief PR chair for the event, stated that Sheen’s movement is so important because “we all often say something we’re going to do and we don’t do it.” After hearing the presentation, Shivers made two promises: to volunteer at St. Jude Research Hospital and to let family and friends know how important they are to her on a daily basis.
Sheen and his movement played a large role in the confession of Matthew Cordle, a 22 year-old who caused a fatality while driving under the influence. Cordle contacted Sheen through Facebook and together they recorded Cordle’s confession video. The video received over 2 million views in the first 10 days. Cordle promised to take full responsibility for his actions and in turn was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and a lifetime driver’s license suspension. Cordle hoped that his promise would influence others to not drink and drive, in order to save their lives and the lives of their victims.
“Because I Said I Would is not about me or Matt or my father. It’s about you. Your promises,” Sheen stated. “When we write something down, does it give us strength? Or is that strength within us?”
“I am making a promise to run a half-marathon before I graduate,” stated Senior Megan Morrison, who has begun taking steps to get there by running in the 2013 Run-A-MUC 5k race Homecoming weekend at Mount Union.
“I promised myself that this would be the year to change for good. I want to prove to myself that I am still the old Meg,” Morrison stated.
Sheen ended his presentation by passing out promise cards to each audience member, encouraging them to commit to a promise and keep their word.
“Better yourself. Better humanity… and maybe like me on Facebook or something,” Sheen said.
Photo by the Office of Marketing at the University of Mount Union