At the very bottom of this post is my Photo of the Day. Also listed are my responses to some of the recent messages I’ve received from readers.
DML: Typically, I’ll post a person’s email and then respond. Today, I do it a bit different.
Today is my 49th birthday and I’m taking the morning off to spend with my son before we cover the Broward County School Board elections later this afternoon.
Dennis and I have been working around the clock for the past 10 days nonstop. It’s been tough work. If we were not ankle deep in dead fish, we were either driving hours at a time or reliving the horrors of February 14 when 17 people were gunned down in a high school.
Despite the hard to stomach issues we’ve been covering, these past 10 days will go down as one of the best periods of my life. The time I got to spend with my oldest son, who is now a man, has been priceless.
The best birthday gift I’ve ever received has been this chance to work with him one on one at my side.
Earlier in our trip he was deceived by someone he and I know, resulting in our main camera to break. He was devasted and felt terrible for me because he knows I cannot operate long term without a replacement.
The camera costs $6k, and he begged me to let him pay for a new camera by cashing in all the savings bonds he has received as gifts dating back as far as his baptism and first birthday. In trying to kill the conversation, I told him the bonds didn’t add up to $6k. He then offered any small savings he has put away. He said he would work for free. I told him no, it was not his fault that the camera was broken. He was deceived in an exchange for a free ride. It was not his fault that he got caught filming a dishonest person amid an unexpected rain storm.
He wouldn’t stop begging me to pay for the camera. I told him it was nonnegotiable, and then I said it was time for us to go home — the rest of our planned shoots and interviews could not be carried out correctly without a main camera. He pushed back and begged we stay using our cheap backups. I could tell he did not want to give up, and he felt so bad that he started to cry. He knows how important the Parkland film is to me.
We figured a way to rig our cheap camera to make it more stable and capture decent audio. So, I agreed to stick it out, but knew that the cost of a new camera would force me to cancel the tail end of our trip to the Florida Keys.
We had planned to go down for 5 days to assist in a massive cleanup of waterways that remain polluted with debris one year after Hurricane Irma.
I told portions of this story when responding to emails last week. Hours later, without my asking for any help, donations from TEAM DML came in to help pay for the camera. I showed my son the emails of support from our readership and the money sent to us. He was blown away by the love and generosity.
We did not raise $6k, but we did raise a few thousand dollars which will be a big help. I still had to cancel the Keys trip because the September budget will be eaten up with the amount I have to pay for the new camera. However, the donations made it so our next small trip next month to interview people for the Parkland film did not have to be cancelled.
And so here I am at 6:45am writing this from my hotel room. My son is sleeping peacefully and I’m reading all the emails that include a “happy birthday” message. There are too many emails to list, and I don’t want to leave any message out. Therefore, today it will be just this message from me to all of you. THANK YOU SO MUCH for the birthday wishes, and for continued support be it emotional, physical, financial, clickable, etc. You folks make me feel so special each day, and I truly am the luckiest man alive.
I also want to thank my writers and editors Katrina and Anneta who have been filling in for me on DMLNews. Without their nonstop commitment, creating new films this summer would have been impossible.
PHOTO OF THE DAY