Often it seems that only in losing someone do we discover how special they really were.
For most, Paul Walker, who died last week, was the star of a phenomenally successful film series that was more about cars than characterization.
Immediately, the media seized on the “lived fast – died young” meme to frame the story of Walker’s life, apparently unaware that he was so much more than a good looking action hero just as the “Fast & Furious” movies were about more than drag racing.
They made a visceral connection with fans who, like the aficionados of martial arts films, know that it’s the action scenes in such films that define and delineate characters. And those fans had lost an icon.
What’s more, the F&F franchise created a family of outsiders with their own special codes of honor and loyalty. And those drawn to that sense of belonging had lost a brother and a friend.
Then we learned that Walker was less about Hollywood success than using the assets success gave him to make the world a better place.
When he wasn’t shooting a film, Walker’s time and energy were dedicated to an organization he’d founded known as “Reach Out Worldwide”, a network of professionals with first responder skill-sets (EMT, paramedic, firefighting, and healthcare) providing expertise when disasters strike.
Designed to quickly respond to need and suffering, ROWW was responsible for establishing one of the first field hospitals in Haiti after its earthquake and to date has responded to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and tornadoes all over the planet.
And Walker wasn’t one content to be the fund-raising face of the organization. More often then not, his were the first boots on the ground, tirelessly providing aid for disaster victims, many of whom never knew they were being cared for by a movie star.
In the wake of his death, Walker’s family asked that donations be made in his name to ROWW. And if you’re of a mind, you can do that here.
Or you can buy a DVD copy of “Fast & Furious 6” when it’s released next week, as a portion of its earnings will go to funding the humanitarian work Walker supported.
With the season of giving upon us, it might be fitting that we in the business do what we can for one who was part of “La Familia” as the Fast and Furious characters were fond of saying.
Enjoy Your Sunday.