There was a time for Donny Rice when he wondered if his life had meaning, where he was in what he calls ‘his dark place.’ My Dad died and I took it really hard,” he remembers, “we were so close, he believed in me and challenged me and loved me and I almost couldn’t get through losing him. I can remember my Dad sitting by me when I was five years old and telling me that I was going to have challenges and there would be a lot that I couldn’t do, but that I had to make the most of what I could do. That’s when he began teaching me about the basics of computers. I remember when I was six he couldn’t get his computer to work and I showed him how to fix it. There was also the time I actually hacked into his computer, which he wasn’t too pleased with. The thing I remember most is my graduation from Kettering Fairmont High School (Go, Firebirds!) and my Dad crying and telling me how proud he was of me and that he knew I’d do it because that’s what I do when I set my mind to something.”
Donny became a member of our Choices’ extended family in 2004. He lives now in one side of a duplex with his best friend Torry Brown. He is 32 years old, a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, an employee of MONCO, and he has a dream for his life. “My dream is to own my own computer repair business one day. I actually dream about that, about supporting myself and not having the government support me!”
With the support of some funds from Choices’ Wish List, Donny signed up to take classes at Wright State University, in government, music appreciation and, most importantly, computer science. “I really wanted to try this,” he says, “but I had to drop out. I was just ill prepared and so I couldn’t continue, but, you know, I don’t regret it. It was part of my plan to make my dream come true and some people may say I failed but I say I tried! I have a five year plan that includes going back to school, this time ITT to learn more about computers, after I get some of my bills paid off and can focus on my classes.
”It’s difficult to keep count of how many times Donny praises Choices in any discussion you have with him. “My friends and my staff, they got me through my dark times, still do. They listen to me, give me advice, support my dreams. Chris (McGlaughlin) and all the staff are awesome. I am so thankful for the understanding I receive from everyone, particularly Tom Weaver (Choices Executive Director). Don’t tell him I said so, but he’s a cool guy!”
“It’s my friends and my staff who helped me make it through, especially when Dad died. They are as close to me as any family could be. With them by my side I’m even finding my faith again. I’m going back to my Catholic faith and try to go to Mass every Saturday. You know, we all need to have something to believe in, something that is bigger than yourself, something that helps us all connect to each other.
”His face lights up and his words come from the heart when he says, “I could not be any happier. I’m living a big part of my dream at Choices – family and friends around me. I had to go through some obstacles in my life, not go around them. I can’t and won’t let my dream die. I still miss my Dad but I think he would be proud of me, proud that the flame in my heart is roaring!”