I know three teens who have been successful in uniting people from different age groups representing many different religions and denominations in collegiality for service. Six-year-old Sam Barlow and his dad, Dave, liked to play a little game in which they expressed their love for each other. Sam would say, “I love you.” Dave responded, “I love you more.” Sam added, “I love you most.” Then Dave always thought he had the ultimate word when he would say, “I love you infinity.”
Once as they were going through their “who-loves-who-more war,” Sam decided he was not going to be topped. When his dad said, “I love you infinity,” Sam quickly replied, “I love you infinity and beyond!” Then his quick-thinking father said, “I love you infinity and beyond plus tax!” This declaration left both of them laughing and Sam searching for something greater.
The following day Sam rushed home from school and waited impatiently on the curb for his dad to come home from work. When Dave steered into the driveway and got out of the car, Sam rushed him and jumped into his arms. The boy hugged his father so fiercely that his body trembled as he whispered, “Python squeeze!” Then Sam leaned back, looked his father in the eyes and said triumphantly, “Dad, I love you 206!” Dave was stumped. He didn’t understand what his son was thinking. Sam saw his father’s inquisitive look and said victoriously, “Today in school I learned that’s how many bones there are in my body so I love you 206! Dad, that’s every bone in my body!””
That delightful interchange was the beginning of a service squad Sam and his brothers Corbin and Cayden launched several years later. They called it Team 206 (See www.servesquad.org or www.love206.com). Those who join with them commit to do 206 hours of service or donate $206 to a worthy cause. Sam and his brothers chose Shriners Hospitals for Children. They earned $206 and donated it to support the creation of the Forever Young Zone at the Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. The zone will provide a place in the hospital where children who lose an arm or leg can recover, socialize, and practice life skills using their prosthetic limbs or wheel chairs. NFL legend Steve Young had donated the bulk of the funds, but more was needed, and the Barlow boys stepped forward.
Others heard of Sam’s donation and wanted to help too—including Miss America 2013, Malory Hagan and her chaperone Marcy Bowen. Marcy told members of her Christian congregation in Arizona about Team 206 and several volunteered to help. Marcy also told a friend in Hawaii who is from a different Christian denomination, and she joined with Sam, Corbin, and Cayden to help children in need. Team 206 now includes people from many religions and organizations who are putting differences aside and uniting in a spirit of true
Another of the Barlow boys’ ideas is to encourage everyone to set an alarm to go off at 2:06 each afternoon as a reminder to acknowledge someone in his or her life. I was the lucky recipient of one of those acknowledgements. It came from the boys’ dad Dave, who left the following phone message: “Brad, my alarm went off at 2:06 reminding me to acknowledge someone who has made a difference in my life, and today that someone is you.” He went on to say some kind and thoughtful words that will not mean much to anyone else, but they sure meant a lot to me. His sincere expressions of gratitude, acceptance, admiration, and love warmed my bones—all 206 of them! I immediately set my alarm to go off the next day so I could do the same for someone else. It would be difficult to avoid a relationship of collegiality with someone who gave you that kind of message.
Perhaps one of these days at 2:06 I will call Sam, Corbin, and Cayden and tell them how proud I am of them for uniting so many in service and love. I would say, “I think it is remarkable that kids your age are doing so much good and encouraging so many others from all different walks of life and backgrounds to join you as colleagues. Keep it up my friends!”
Who will you call at 2:06?