“That dream is going to slowly start fading away.” Those are the words of a 14-year old child living in poverty. They are the words of a child I watched recently on a Frontline documentary, Poor Kids, about children in the United States living in poverty.

Poor Kids
Dreams aren’t meant to slowly fade away. They are meant to burn bright. (Tweet That)

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It’s a heartbreaking 54 minutes, but also full of hope. The children know it’s tough but they also desire for and believe for a way out.

Here’s what that 14-year old said about his dream:

All I want is to play football, but football is expensive. If I don’t have the opportunity to show somebody that I can play football, football won’t exist four years from now for me. If I don’t get to play on a team this year, that dream is going to slowly start fading away.

That’s what happened to somebody’s dream, to a kid’s dream. They want to attain something and they couldn’t afford it.

You can listen to him here.

And my heart ached.

Because I know what it’s like to be him.

Because I know what it’s like to not be him.

Because it doesn’t have to be that way.

My story, Act 1

I grew up with a single mother. My father left us when I was two. In America, more than fifty percent of children of single mothers live in poverty. In America. Right in our backyard.

I was in the majority.

I know what this kid feels.

I know the hurt, the anger, the worthlessness, and the embarrassment. And I know the desire to get out of that and the helplessness to do so.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

My story, Act 2

At the age of nine, I moved to live with my dad. And I experienced a new life. I moved to the proverbial other side of the tracks two states away. I soon found myself in sports leagues, honors classes, traveling the country, and wearing new clothes.

And my life changed.

My mind changed.

I focused on what was possible and not what was impossible. I not only saw a way out of the only life I had known, I was living it.

His dream

That 14-year old’s dream is to play football. I don’t even know his name. But I can find someone who has a similar dream.

I can find one kid who has never lived out a dream.

I can find one kid who has never been given a chance.

I can find one kid who has never been told he can.

I can find one kid who has never felt a new pair of shoes or seen with clear vision.

And I can give of my time, my money, and my wisdom. I can inspire him. I can support him.

And one kid can live out his dream.

One kid will have a chance to make it.

One kid will be told that he can do anything he puts his mind to.

One kid will walk easier, see better, and even if for one brief moment in time, live freer.

I can do that.

And so can you.

Today, no matter what your circumstances, find one child and give. Pay for him to play football. Pay for her to learn to dance. Just do something. Today.

Dreams aren’t meant to slowly fade away. They are meant to burn bright.

Be the spark for one child’s dream. 

0 thoughts on “When Dreams Begin to Fade Away | Help Poor Kids in America

  1. Charles Hutchinson says:

    Each of us have the ability to give and you don’t have to look far to see a need that you help to meet. Thanks for this reminder.

  2. Zech Newman says:

    Great post, and great reminder. To stretch a child’s mind to what is possible through giving time and money is huge. Thanks Matt. Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

  3. Katherine Leicester says:


    Know a cool way to keep someone else’s dream alive? Live yours.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Agreed. Not doing that is a hindrance to your ability to inspire others.

  4. Ken Porter says:

    I lived your story too, but with one difference. My parents were broke and when I was a teenager, dad got a huge promotion that led to us being very wealthy. I know both sides of the tracks…and this post is a beautifully inspiring reminder to get out and help someone who needs it today.

    Thanks Matt.

  5. Lily Kreitinger says:

    Thanks, Matt for your transparency and sharing your story. You are proof that poverty is not a life sentence. As a mother, my heart aches for those moms who wonder where the next meal will come from. Both my parents grew up in extreme poverty and broken homes. They vowed to break the cycle when they got married. Thanks for reminding me that I need to pay this forward. God bless.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      You have a powerful story Lily. Your parents are the winningest of winners (I have more Dr. Seuss in me than I think sometimes).

  6. Jon Stolpe says:

    Do for one what you wish you could do for many.

  7. Paige Gordon II says:

    So true Matt. Doing something for just ONE may not seem like much, but it is how you change the world. Thanks for the honesty and encouragement man!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Yes. I hope you go and do! 🙂

  8. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Thanks for this post Matt! It’s so easy to think if I can’t start a huge foundation with millions of dollars, I can’t make a difference. And that’s simply not true!

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