160 Butterflies for Carli

The Story
Along with every other parent, my wife and I have great hopes and dreams for our six children. We're pouring ourselves into them, and their community, with these hopes in mind. Sometimes these hopes are best voiced not by those walking these shores of time, but by those who now speak across eternity....

A few weeks ago Carli Cummings, a beautiful young student at McDowell- full of life and promise, died in a tragic car accident just short of 16 years of age. I was privileged to connect with her while producing Villa Maria Elementary (VME) graduation video a couple years back. Last Tuesday, Mary Falk, a good friend for many years and teacher at VME, shared with me that Carli's family would be releasing 160 butterflies on the occasion of her 16th birthday down at Presque Isle.
There have been two times in my life when I was moved to film something without quite knowing why. The first was Celebrate Erie 2008, which resulted in creation of ErieAlityTV, which introduced ABC/ Extreme Makeover to Clara Ward. The second was going down to film this event.

This event was hardly some dour experience focused on a tragic passing-- it was inspirational, uplifting...focused on possibility. Beyond the surface, Carli's voice could be clearly heard... inviting us to embrace life, to live it to the full.

In the memories of those who would embrace this, she will surely endure. I believe many will point back to this experience down the road and say, "I was heading in this direction... and if that hadn't happened, I would not be where I am today."

So I had this material after shooting the event-- and I was asking the same, big questions. What's the purpose?

Simultaneously we've been developing Rock Your Mission... a big-vision effort to invite our community to discover their purpose, their mission, to live it out loud. While we have quite the list of reputable local and national partners on board, it came quite clear... Carli might perhaps be the most important "speaker" for this movement.

I was moved to capture and produce "160 Butterflies for Carli" -- to share it for those who were there, and for many who were not... so that "Carli's" message can continue to be heard... which so personifies everything we're about, everything we hope for our children and the community they will inherit.

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