Inspired By: Nathan Blevins and Wonderpuzzle

logo I thought long and hard about how to write this post. There are a ton of people that have inspired me throughout my life.

I was inspired by Jeff Blankenburg‘s Contribupendence Day. I was inspired by the original GiveCamp thrown by Toi Wright and Chris Koenig and the latest one hosted by John Hopkins and Jennifer Marsman. I was inspired by Joe O’Brien‘s passion for Ruby. I was inspired by more people than I can possibly name. I am the person that I am today because of the people that have inspired me through out my life.

At first, I couldn’t decide that I should profile anyone person because there are so many and I’d be doing a disservice to all those that I wasn’t profiling and I didn’t want to leave anyone out. Then I realized how stupid that was because I was leaving everyone out by not starting somewhere.

So, I decided to start with Nathan because he’s the most recent on my mind and has touched my life directly…

Who has inspired you and how?

When Nathan Blevins heard about the Ann Arbor GiveCamp he could have, like a lot of people, decide that it was too far away and not to come and left it alone. Instead, he decide to organize an offsite group and pulled in 4 more people to help. He hosted them at his house and they worked 9-5 each day. In the early going, he called and called, making sure that we hadn’t forgotten about him until we threw them a lot of work.

By doing so, he affected 2 different projects.

One was the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum (done in PHP so that it could fit in with the rest of their already existing web site). One of the guys, Dylan, that he hosted was a PHP savant and did a lot of the heavy lifting on that project. 

The second was a charity called Wonderpuzzle. It’s a charity run by my wife for children who have medical problems with no diagnosis. The parents of these children feel like their on an island because if their child’s condition had a name, they could join that community. As it is, they are bumping through the night with no one to turn to for help or even empathy as they fight against the insurance companies who won’t pay because they don’t have a name for some paper somewhere or the schools because the legislation only forces them to work with a small slice of named conditions like autism. Wonderpuzzle is an online community with discussion forums, articles and much more that address these issues.

I was very touched and privileged to get to demo the finished version of their site. Check it out:

What have they inspired you to do?

The next time that I look at something that’s the right thing to do but there are constraints in the way of my participation – I’m going to ideate on different ways to engage. I’m going to stop letting my “lame excuses” (all props to Michael Eaton for calling a number of people out on that) get in the way of my participation in a number of things that I’ve wanted to do.

Who else have they inspired?

The other people that came in to help Nathan out with the Knoxville GiveCamp satellite need mention too:

  • Ben Farmer – Ben worked w/ Joe to make sure the site was completely ported over to sitefinity, replicated its functionality, and made sure the data was moved over as well.
  • Jenny Farmer – Jenny was the mastermind behind the new design.  She spoke directly with Phoebe to make sure she got exactly what she wanted and made it so in photoshop. After that, she worked w/ me as Nathan made her ‘idea’ into HTML / .Net code. She, unfortunately, was not able to come in the second day due to not feeling well.
  • Joe Simpson – Joe worked with Ben to make sure the site was completely ported over to sitefinity, replicated its functionality, and made sure the data was moved over as well.  Joe was actually a real trooper as he was usually the first one at Nathan’s house and the last to leave.
  • Dylan Wolf – Dylan worked mainly on a separate PHP project.  However, any time he had down time he would jump on Wonderpuzzle and start taking small tasks on. He was a great asset to both projects and did an excellent job multitasking.

Call to Action

My challenge to you is to write an “Inspired By” post and profile another community hero.

In fact, I’m going to call out 5 people and because I want to know who inspires them. The fun part is that I could have started with any of these 5 people because they all inspire me.

Carry Payette (who did a very similar satellite group in Columbus)

Michael Eaton (who worked tirelessly at GiveCamp to make sure that everyone there had whatever they needed)

Martin Shoemaker (who brings design, best practices and humor everywhere he goes)

John Hopkins (who doesn’t want people to say thank you but rather – what can I do?)

Sam Henry (doesn’t blog much but when Sam sees a problem he goes after if head first. He, his wife and some of their friends, have started the Red Letters Campaign – Living Faith to End Poverty)

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