Pine Ridge: How music and athletes can make a difference

Dispatch's Corrigan introduces Mastroeni's first-hand account of his experience in South Dakota

Brad Corrigan and Dispatch at Pine Ridge

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy Pablo Mastroeni

At the beginning of this year, I had dinner with my friend Brad Corrigan, an amazing musician and a member of the band Dispatch, and he asked me to join him on a trip to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He wanted me to meet some of his friends, and to introduce the game of soccer to people he holds dear to his heart. We spoke about the impact that musicians and athletes have on our culture, and agreed on our commitment to finding ways to bring the two together to inspire and promote positive change. - Pablo Mastroeni

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My name is Brad Corrigan, and I’ve been super fortunate in my lifetime to share in loads of sports, music, and travel. I've been blessed to be able to dream crazy ideas up and go for them, and with every country and culture I’ve experienced I see the heart of what it is to be human. We want and need to be known, loved, encouraged, and set free! We want to be told that we can do anything, and we want family- to belong to something greater than ourselves! Man, it's just super humbling to get to chase a dream all over the world without worrying about food, clean water, disease, prejudice, or where to sleep?

I've been in a rock band Dispatch for most of my adult life, and before that in high school and college I was a lacrosse player... and I’ve always had whatever I needed. So I used to think that everyone out there had whatever they needed, more or less, or at least access to it, or a way to work for it. Then I walked into a trash dump in Managua, Nicaragua and found more than 250 families living and working in the trash fields there, scavenging to survive and make a life out of the trash.

My soul broke when I saw loads of kiddos running around barefoot and naked on broken glass, burning medical waste, syringes everywhere... endless heaps of waste on fire as the park that they played in. They clearly didn't know anything different – this was their home and community, and so they laughed running around kicking a ball of rags, staging their own mini soccer game in their imaginations and on the glowing embers. That was the beginning of me realizing the poverty of my wealth and moving too fast through life, and also the beginning of me stepping into the endless wealth of "the poor," seeing their smiles and extended hands and open hearts in almost every direction.

So it began, the idea of Love Light & Melody. We all have dreams to pursue in life that are really supposed to be about "we" and not me. In my life and culture I’m taught daily to focus on me, on getting all that I can, that my identity is in what I do, and that happiness and success are marked by money, status, influence, celebrity, and achievement. As I’ve been fortunate enough to find some of these things, I’ve only found them to be hollow and kind of like a mirror, just reflecting me. As I’ve stood on some of those mountaintops I’ve been so surprised, shocked really thinking surely there has to be more to "success" and fulfillment than this? And where is everyone anyway?!

After loads and loads of false summits and dead ends in the midst of "success" brought me to complete and total burn out, I found out so many of the things we live for in our culture don't give life at all, and that most require you to sacrifice your life and love to get them. What a scary thing, and what a sham! The truest wealth is in relationship, knowing and drawing people together in unconditional love. Wealth is in sitting at the feet of those who are different than we are and learning new perspectives from them. Wealth is giving all that we have away and watching how our gifts and platforms become a dance floor for those around us who haven't been given as much. Wealth is in having your identity flow from who you are and the love that you share rather than what you do and the money you make.

Wow – this was just supposed to be a quick foreword and now I’m starting to write a book here! WELL IT'S BECAUSE THERE'S AN EPIC SECRET HERE TO SHARE WITH ALL OF YOU! Give yourself and your gifts away freely, without agenda; to love and serve the folks around you and the whole world will change. It's happening now with Pablo and the Colorado Rapids getting involved up on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, and just you wait and see what happens because it has only just begun. Giving inspires giving, loving inspires loving, serving inspires serving, and the people who are coming together right now to pour themselves out on Pine Ridge are coming away with more than they could have ever asked for or imagined. It's so beautiful.

THANK YOU RAPIDS FOR ALL OF YOUR GENEROSITY AND BELIEF AND FOR PARTNERING WITH US!

And thank you Pablo (and Wells Thompson!), for dreaming into all of this with me and stepping up to make our first steps on Pine Ridge a reality. From a trash dump in Central America to the plains of South Dakota, there are treasures waiting to be unearthed as we sing, dance, and kick it! And to those of you who are about to read, strap on your seatbelt because your heart is going to start pumping...

Brad Corrigan

Pablo Mastroeni's first-hand story: Pine Ridge: Mastroeni and Corrigan turn dream into reality

P.S. If you would like more information about Love Light and Melody, or you would like to donate to the work we do, please check out: http://www.lovelightandmelody.org/donate/. Thanks so much!