In life, you have to adapt to certain situations that may come your way. Although my dad’s incarceration has always been a burden on me, thanks to God and my wonderful family, I have managed to overcome tragedy and turn it into triumph.
Cleveland, Ohio (PRWEB) June 03, 2014
17 year-old, 2014 St. Ignatius High School Graduate, Christian Boone says he’s on a mission to “strive to be great and win”. And that’s a wonderfully ambitious goal and inspirational attitude for Christian, who has spent 16 years of his childhood, building a unique and special relationship with his dad, while helplessly viewing him inside the bars of a prison cell. But despite his circumstances, and because of his own personal faith, and the loving “village” that surrounds him, Christian has grown up to be an exceptional child with big dreams and a big future, which includes becoming a student at Fisk University, beginning August 18, 2014. Fisk University, a leading private, liberal arts HBCU (Historically Black College or University) in Nashville, Tennessee, has played a leading role in helping to educate African Americans since 1866 - six months after the Civil War. The University has a rich legacy of producing scholars and leaders, including: distinguished educator and founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. DuBois; poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, Nikki Giovanni; and U.S. Congressman and noted civil rights leader, The Honorable John R. Lewis (Ga).
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Christian is one of five children born to his mom, Danielle Key, who now works as a Tax Auditor in the Cleveland area. Key met his dad, Shaughn G. Boone, in Columbus, and in 1995, Christian was born, during what turned out to be, a very challenging time in her life. She was 18 years old, a college freshman, and her father had just suffered a brain aneurysm. Unfortunately, she and Christian both suffered an additional tragedy when an acquaintance of Christian’s dad executed a “drive-by” shooting in Columbus that resulted in an 18 month-old infant being severely injured, and Boone was accused of the crime. Despite the fact that Boone was in Cleveland at the time of the incident, he was convicted and given a 39 year prison sentence. “So, at the age of one, my father was taken away from me for a crime that he did not commit,” says Christian. In fact, representatives of the Innocence Project, a national litigation firm and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent further injustice, believe there is a strong likelihood of his innocence, and Christian’s family is working diligently, seeking assistance, and looking for organizations to help secure his release.
Despite the circumstances, Christian says “it didn’t have a huge effect on me growing up because my mom tried to keep everything normal.” Soon after the incident, Key moved her family to Cleveland. “She was always there for me,” says Christian. “And I was young when my mom told me about my dad, so I had a relationship with him from day one. My mom was always positive. I would wish that my dad was here, and she always played both roles. And she really emphasized education – she didn’t like it if I got anything below a ‘B’.” Says Key, “I thank God for blessing me with a wonderful son during a very difficult time in my life. As a young boy he was happy, curious, and caring, and he loved learning, playing, and sports.”
“But a lot of other people helped me too,” says Christian. “Like my grandma [Glenda Daniely Key]. My grandma has seven brothers and sisters. It takes a village to raise a child. They would give me wisdom. My grandma is like an angel. She would tell me something, and I would go against it, and then the next day, I would see why she told me not to do it." According to Key, his love for education was evident at a very early age. “His commitment to doing homework was developed in elementary school, and continues to be a major part of his daily routine now, even after sports or work. A wee bit tired - he still puts the time in. I am truly grateful for all of the great opportunities the future holds for Christian. He is a kind and passive young man... with a winsome smile. He is destined to soar,” she says.
Christian says that his “Aunt Monica” [Monica Daniely Green] has also been a very important person in his life. “She is very inspirational - very successful,” he says. “On the business side…she does it all. She’s always there to help me, like giving me clothes. People always thought I was her son. She’s very supportive and a motivator.” But Christian says he also found a strong role model in the father of his twin siblings, Shondo Green. “We lived with him for awhile, and he is a great father figure. He taught me how to be a man. He told me things like ‘men should always wear a wallet, watch and a belt’. He also taught me how to fix a car. He likes sports, and was always at my football games, rooting me on.”
Christian says fondly, that despite his dad’s unfortunate situation, Shaughn Boone has been one of his greatest inspirations. “He’s probably the smartest and most enlightened person I know. He was already smart. But being in prison, he reads a lot. He taught me, ‘don’t talk about it…be about it’.” As a Rastafarian, he has also encouraged Christian to eat healthy, like not eating pork or beef. Says Christian, “He also tells me to try to do a good deed and make it a part of my practice every day. He’s very strong. I want to be just like him. I use his incarceration as fuel to drive me to be successful. I strive to not be where he is at, so it motivates me, but in a positive way. He’s been a major influence,” he says.
Throughout the years, Christian is also proud to say that, overall, he has been a very active and successful student. He gets good grades. He has been in the French club since 7th grade, and also participates in the Multi-Cultural Student Union. He has also played football and been a part of the wrestling team. So it’s no wonder that he has been admitted to Fisk University – one of the most difficult colleges and universities to be accepted into, based on a study (2012) by Forbes Magazine, which highlights an admission rate of only 11%. “I am so glad Christian has a passion for learning,” says his mom. “Christian is a smart, kind, handsome, independent, and confident young man. He is a great student with a very strong work/study ethic. He often wakes up at 4 a.m. to study and finish homework. I am so impressed by him. He also works three jobs regularly after school, on weekends, and during the summer. One job is for a major sports team as a sales associate. The second job is janitorial work at his school, and the last is caddying. Christian is a very hard worker,” she says. And Christian’s uncle, Darryl Green, couldn’t agree more, saying “Christian has worked for me during the summer time, and occasionally on the weekends during his time at St. Ignatius. He’s a very loyal and dedicated Individual. He works hard at every challenge he faces. He is selfless, and is forever putting the needs of his Mom and his brothers and sister before himself. Christian has great ambition, he sets goals, and then meets them. He is a great young man, and I think with God and his stick-to-itiveness, that the sky is the limit as to what Christian will achieve in his lifetime. I am proud to call him my nephew.”
Says Christian, “One word that sums up my life is ‘adaptation’. In life, you have to adapt to certain situations that may come your way. Although my dad’s incarceration has always been a burden on me, thanks to God and my wonderful family, I have managed to overcome tragedy and turn it into triumph. God gets me through a lot of stuff. I pray a lot. I’m stress free and don’t worry about anything. There’s always a way. That would be my advice for other kids going through challenges. You just have to stay positive.”
Christian’s family is sponsoring a fundraiser to help him with the cost of college. Says Christian’s aunt, Monica Daniely Green, “Honestly, I would help Christian even if he was not my nephew. This young man deserves to go to college. Against a lot of odds, he is honestly one of the kindest young men I know. He is such a servant at heart. In addition; I truly admire his discipline and drive. He is destined for greatness - it is already in him. So, our family is asking the community to help us, help Christian continue on this very positive path, by sending in donations to the website we’ve set up for him. He wants to go to college to be successful, and to serve as a role model, and I think that is admirable.”
So, what are Christian’s dreams and hopes for the future? “I’d like to see my dad proven innocent and released. I’m looking forward to going to Fisk University in the Fall, and eventually becoming an orthodontist. Hopefully – getting married one day. And I just want to make my family proud. Make them happy. I’m happy.”
To make a monetary contribution to the website set up to help Christian attend Fisk University in the Fall, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/992luc.