On May 8th, 2016 I was honored to be part of the 5th Anniversary Mother's Day Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. The walk ended up at a festival at Cadman Plaza park in Brooklyn but i'll get back to that later. What led me here was years in the making and it all started out by working with one person that has been a constant light in my life, Lila Green. Around four years ago I started working with Lila Green who would provide and make jewelry for some of my photoshoots. Our energies immediately resonated and we made some fantastic projects come alive. However, we sat down one day and she confided in me about her past and the dark times of her life with an abusive relationship that affected her life. She rose out of that period of her life and became a new person with new ambitions and one of those being the drive to help others suffering from domestic violence. When she approached me with an idea of creating a calendar for women I jumped on the opportunity to assist her on this venture. She called her fledgling organization Hunks4Hope which I thought had a fantastic ring to it. So to take pictures and have these same pictures help fund programs and events all targeted to people who have been abused, well that was a no brainer for me.
Now that you know the quick history you can understand fully my path and involvement on this wonderful day. It is through Lila that I met another leader in the fight against domestic violence, Dawn Diaz. Dawn is the founder of Milagros Day Worldwide Inc. She and her mentors have helped so many women and now men transform themselves into better lives by letting go of guilt and ending the cycle of blame. With programs such as the BootCamp retreat many women have discovered new life possibilities after surviving relationships and even childhoods with abuse. Now you get a full understanding on why I was present on this day. Another thing that made this day even more special was that Dawn was presenting me a with a humbling award, the "Man Of the Movement" award, MOM for short. Granted, i never did any of my work to be seen as this big savior. I simply and sincerely loved helping these organizations by lending my eye to the movement. But I was so moved when Dawn reached out to me and said that she was giving me the award. I gladly accepted this award all in thanks to the love and support I myself have received from these amazing women. It also warmed me to have some of the mentors present that I had previously worked with on the "Miracle Workers" art exhibition, Kitty, Patricia and Melissa and QoQo. These women truly are beacons of light in my eyes and will always be.
Now let's get back to this awesome walk and festival! It was cold and rainy but the spirits were high and everyone was clad in purple shirts. The music started playing and people couldn't resist the urge to dance and celebrate this joyous occasion. Dawn opened up the ceremony with inspiring stories. David Anthony then belted out The Star Spangled Banner with his amazing voice. Dawn then began handing out the awards which were handed out to inspiring people such as my fellow MOM award recipients Dan Saurez and Kell Ramos and a special Resilience award to Suzanne Reisenbichler. Also in hand was a sizable contribution by Dr. Shellie Hipsky from Global Sisterhood of $1,000 to Milagros Day Worldwide! The madrina of the event Karen Hoyos closed out the Manhattan side of this event with a hand holding empowerment session that got everyone ready for the walk across the bridge. Two of our Hunks4Hope models Robert Dobson and Nestle Snipes made it out to support the event. Lila Green showed up with an awesome banner which our Hunks gladly took into their possession. After the speeches and award distribution we all gathered behind the Milagros Day banner and began our trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. Honestly, I've never walked across this landmark so It was an awesome feeling doing combined with this cause. Taking pictures and soaking in the views was a real treat. Upon reaching the Brooklyn side of the bridge we made our way to Cadman Plaza park. As we reached closer to the main building in the center of the park I could hear the DJ playing music. The view was wonderful with vendors, informational booths and kids activities waiting for all the participants. I immediately made my way to the BATALA drummers who's band leader waved us all in to get closer as these women began to beat the drums with vigor. I couldn't help but to get real close and let the drums just pierce my being. After the drummers, Gina Vasquez Belly Dancers made their appearance and wowed the crowd with their enchanting dance moves. Everyone was seen enjoying this festival and with the sun now in full radiance it was more evident.
With all that went on in the festival, what really stood out was when one of the mentors from the "Miracle Workers" art project pulled me to the side and said that our photo session pulled her out of the negative feelings she had towards her body. She had told me that she started on a new journey to exercise more and it was all due to our amazing photo session. She thanked me with such warmth and truth that not even a brick wall could not resist her words.
Below I leave you with images and video from this special day so many of you whether you are in an abusive home or just want to help others can see that only with unity will we make everyone aware of this silent problem.
Milagros Day mentor Melissa & Jose Pagan
Jose Pagãn & Milagros Day mentor Patricia
Jose Pagãn & Milagros Day mentor Kitty
Showing off my awesome shirt!
Jose and Hunks4Hope model Nestle Snipes
Dr. Shellie Hipsky from Global Sisterhood presenting an awesome donation!
Carlos Ayana, the first original recipient of the MOM (Man of the Movement) award.
I'm standing with Hunks4Hope model Robert Dobson. I'm so grateful for the recognition of my work with this award.
Nestle & Robert proud to represent.
My wife Jeanne sharing in this joyous moment.
Even my children were extremely happy!
Karen Hoyos closing out the Manhattan ceremony.
Our Hunks holding the banner with pride!
Milagros Day mentor & Author Eleanor giving us a peek to her new book!
Milagros Day mentor QoQo all smiles at the festival.
Milagros Day mentor in training Sharlena Powell.
Lila Green founder of Hunks4Hope with one of her daughters.
Myself with Dawn and Lila. Two women that are the epitome of strength, love and leadership. Love them to pieces!
For more information on the organizer and sponsors visit: