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"My Orange Duffel Bag" Offers Foster Kids Hope | News

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"My Orange Duffel Bag" Offers Foster Kids Hope
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Atlanta - In the movie "The Blindside", a family takes a risk and opens their hearts and home to a homeless kid who eventually makes it to the NFL. Michael Ohers' true story is unique, but not so different.

"I wasn't as good a football player (as Oher)," said Sam Bracken, author of "My Orange Duffel Bag", an autobiography on growing up abused and abandoned.

The book is written as a collage of words and pictures from Bracken's life.

"Age four, left with nuns in an orphanage. Mommy comes back," Bracken writes. "Age 5, my left arms is doused in lighter fluid by an older boy."

Like Oher, Bracken survived thanks to the generosity of others. But, he unlike Oher, the people who came to his rescue weren't wealthy.

"I was helped by poor families. Average families. And, I was helped by a lot of families, not just wealthy family."

In addition, Bracken's talent in football helped him win a scholarship to Georgia Tech in the early 1980s. While there, he received more help from people such as football coach, Bill Curry.

He wrote the book was to help kids who face similar obstacles, but he's doing even more through the Orange Duffel Bag Foundation, founded with co-author Echo Garrett and others, to help give kids who are homeless or in foster care, the skills they need to succeed.

Bracken the orange duffel bag referred to in the title represents the bag Bracken took to Georgia Tech when he left for college. Everything he owned fit in one duffel bag that Bracken still has and shows to audiences during motivational speaking engagements.

He is currently a successful executive, but joined the CEO of Icentris Solutions, Brent Jorgensen, to conduct the first Certified Orange Duffel Bag Coaches class to train 25 foster youth, age 14-19, on how to become self-sufficient and goal-oriented.

"Showing you what strong obstacles are in your way and knowing you can overpass them," said Damian, a teen who completed the class. He has spent his life in and out of more than a dozen foster care homes.

"If everyone was the one to help just one (child), we wouldn't have a problem. We wouldn't have homeless kids. We wouldn't have kids in foster care," said Bracken.

 

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