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Darren Meade, is Being the Change he Wants to See in the World.
A once homeless bodybuilder donates a tractor trailer of food - 25,000 pounds worth - to Roanoke's Rescue Mission Sunday. He (Meade) also rented a couple of stretch limousines and let children take rides in them as he mingled with volunteers.
By TODD JACKSON THE ROANOKE TIMES
Bodybuilding champion Darren Meade has huge biceps, gigantic calves
and a mammoth chest.
He's got a big heart, too. The once homeless bodybuilder donated a
tractor-trailer load of food - 25,000 pounds worth - to Roanoke's
Rescue Mission Sunday. He also rented a couple of stretch limousines
and let children take rides in them as he mingled with a group of
Rescue Mission volunteers.
Meade was in Roanoke over the weekend to support a women's
bodybuilding competition at the civic center. He's a friend of
Lynchburg's Jan Tana, the competition's sponsor.
Meade, a Mr. North America champion, paid for and donated the food to
the Rescue Mission himself on behalf of the Jan Tana competition and
the Feed the Children program. He said he wanted to give something
back to needy people.
Meade can relate. At age 14, abandoned by his parents, Meade said he
wandered the streets of the Oakland, Calif., area sleeping under
bridges, never thinking to look for a rescue mission. He said he was
later "adopted" by workers at an industrial complex, who fed him and
ignited his love of body building by letting him work out at a
company gym. "They called me 'pup,'" he said.
No one was calling Meade, now 36, by that name Sunday. "Hey,
strongest man in the world, come here a minute!" one little girl
yelled. Meade chuckled. He was also sentimental, choking up on
several occasions as people asked for his autograph and offered their
stories. He hugged Jan Tana. He hugged his girlfriend. "This isn't my
most masculine moment," he said.
Ray Linder, a participant in the Rescue Mission's drug and alcohol
treatment program, shook Meade's hand and handed him a piece of
Meade signed it: "To Ray: Stay strong." "He makes me want to be a
productive member of society," Linder said. A group of about 100
volunteers showed up Sunday to unload the food truck in over
90-degree heat. It was emptied in less than an hour. The group was a
diverse mix of people from a lawyer and an insurance agent to a
homeless man staying at the mission. They formed a human conveyor
belt and the boxes - containing items from green beans and pasta to
apple juice - moved quickly from person to person. Joy
Sylvester-Johnson, the mission's director, said she believes Meade's
gift is the largest one-time donation the mission has ever received.
She said the food will last for months. The mission can use it. It
served more than 150,000 meals last year, Sylvester-Johnson said.
Todd Jackson can be reached at 981-3253 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Darren Meade, bodybuilder named Mr. North America, donated a
truckload of food.
Ron Smith (left) passes donated items to Courtney Hoge as
about 100 volunteers move 25,000 pounds of food Sunday into the
Roanoke Rescue Mission. Darren Meade gave the food on behalf of the
Jan Tana competition and the Feed the Children program. color.
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Kairos-Meade, a California based strategic business development;