Rooftop Revelations: San Diego man to bike over 2,000 miles in support of Project H.O.O.D.

on Feb15
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These days it is not hard to let the feeling creep in that Americans do not care for one another. According to a 2019 Pew Research survey, 79% of Americans have “far too little” or “too little” confidence in each other, and 64% agree that the “level of trust in each other has been shrinking.” Perhaps the more revealing statistic is that 70% of these Americans believe that “low trust in each other makes it harder to solve the country’s problems.” Sadly, these numbers may be even worse today due to the pandemic. 

There is one American named Dan Powell who refuses to accept these negative statistics. A native of the San Diego community, Powell recently made news for waiving the rent of his business tenants for a month during the pandemic. However, his lasting claim to fame may be dressing up in blue tights, a cape and a star-studded helmet – an outfit that transforms Powell into the character of Captain Challenge, a bike-riding machine who has ridden thousands of miles to raise funds for worthy causes.

When Powell heard about Project H.O.O.D.’s fundraising efforts for a community center, he reached out to Pastor Corey Brooks, who invited him onto the roof on the 87th day of his 100-day rooftop vigil. Unsurprisingly, Powell got into his car with his bike on the rack and made the long drive to Chicago where he got a South Side welcoming. 

“I know you had a rough morning,” the pastor said. “Tell us about it.”

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“My first morning, I was actually woken up to gunfire and I counted 20 shots. It was like, ba, ba, bam … Then about an hour later, 10 more gunshots,” Powell said. “I saw you about an hour later, and I said, ‘Did I hear gunshots this morning?’”

“Yeah.”

“And you said, ‘Yeah, it happens quite frequently all the time,’” Powell continued. “And I was actually taken aback by your response because it kind of felt like to me, you were ordering an oatmeal latte from Starbucks. It was kind of matter of fact, and I was thinking, ‘Wow, the response is almost numbing.’”

The pastor said: “To hear you say that makes me really think about it because it’s two things: One, I don’t want to normalize it because it should never become normalized, and I think a lot of times with the violence in Chicago, a lot of people become desensitized and normalized.”

“Secondly, I don’t want to be overdramatic because if I get overdramatic, then that means every time I hear a gunshot, I’m going to be taken back,” the pastor continued. “I’m going to be overwhelmed. And I’m living in an environment where it’s often, it’s consistent, and we’re trying to do something about it. I have to stay even keeled and that’s hard sometimes.”

“Before I came out here, I was reading the end of the year report for 2021, and they said there was over 3,500 shootings and 797 deaths,” Powell said. “So that’s almost 10 shootings a day and 2.2 people every single day dying from gunshots. If you’re just doing the math, if you’re good at statistics, you can’t have 10 gunshots a day and me not being here for a week and not hearing one.”

“I’m really thankful that you came all the way from San Diego,” the pastor said. “What makes a person come all the way from San Diego, California, to get on a rooftop on the South Side of Chicago?”

“We met less than three months ago … You were a luncheon speaker and God spoke to me and said, ‘Help this guy anyway you can, in every way you can,’” Powell said. “And I came up to you afterwards and said, ‘I’m coming on the roof.’ I don’t know if you believed me at the time.”

The pastor smiled in response. 

“Then I said, ‘I’ve always wanted to bike the route 66, which is Chicago to LA, and why don’t I bike back?’ That’s why I drove out because I needed to bring my bikes and I got a guy coming out who’s going to drive the van back and assist me, and I’m going to bike from Chicago to LA, and it’s gonna all be a fundraiser for Project H.O.O.D.”

“I think that’s awesome,” the pastor said. “And I found out that not only are you trying to help Project H.O.O.D., but in the past, you basically have given your life toward trying to help people. I think that’s important because that’s what Project H.O.O.D. is really all about. We’re about trying to help as many people as we possibly can.”

“The more I give, the more I get. That’s kind of trite, but it is true,” Powell said. “I’m not trying to make the most amount of money, but I’m trying to do the most amount of good while I’m here on earth because, as we all know, the human mortality rate is holding firm at 100%.”

“Absolutely.”

“I am looking at that and saying, ‘Okay, how can I move the needle? How can I be part of the solution and not part of the problem?’ And sometimes actually doing nothing is being part of the problem. And it’s easy to do nothing.”

“Easy. So easy.”

“We’ve raised about $3,500 since I left San Diego, but my goal is to raise over a $100,000, and I will say to the viewers that while I’m here on the roof, I’m going to match every donation [up] to $50,000,” Powell said.

“Thank you. I appreciate that. We appreciate it,” the pastor said gratefully. “Why is it so important that we get involved, that we do something?”

“I lived in LA for 17 years, and I lived through the Rodney King riots. I lived through the O.J. Simpson murder [case],” Powell said. “Every Monday morning in the Los Angeles Times, there was a little column, local section, and it was a column about how many people lost their lives over the weekend due to gang violence, and it was anywhere from two to 20. I’d say on average, maybe seven, maybe eight, maybe 10. And I said, ‘I don’t want to live in a city where murder is just a statistic.’”

Powell continued: “I was born on third base, make no mistake about it. I was born in a middle class, a San Diego neighborhood … and I want to help as many people as I can to get the kind of life that I had. And I know that in the inner city, there’s some desperate people and there’s some people that aren’t getting a good education.”

“Absolutely.”

“And that’s tragic.”

“That’s one of the reasons why I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re participating. I’m glad you’re staying on the roof. I hope and pray that we’ll bless you as you’re blessing us and—”

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“Already happened,” Powell said, interrupting the pastor. “I felt like The Blues Brothers. I was on a mission from God, and it didn’t matter what mother nature threw at me.”

Powell continued: “I came through eight states and I would mention what I was doing and they’d go, ‘There’s some pastor on some roof I heard about’ and obviously it was through Fox. And they said, ‘Is that the guy you’re going [to visit]?’ ‘That’s the guy.’”

“It’s a blessing,” the pastor said.

Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.

For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.

Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.

Camera by Terrell Allen.



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