Dear Friends and Community Members,
It is with deepest regret that I must tell you that we have lost one of our most active members of the Auburn Hip Hop Congress. On October 11, 2014, Sheldon William Allmon was struck by a car and killed in Colorado. Many of you may have seen the newspaper article or heard about this. What you may not know about Sheldon’s life of service and the impact his life and death has had on the Auburn Hip Hop Congress and the community at large is why I am writing this.
Sheldon was a member of the Leos Club, a high school version of the Lion’s Service Club. Sheldon connected with Auburn Hip Hop Congress shorty after moving to Auburn. His first contact with us was through volunteer events that we hosted. After our first meeting and volunteering together, Sheldon never left our group. He became a regular at our weekly “Writing and Reciting” workshop and volunteered at every event. He also helped out at our annual “Growing Peace Camp” working with younger children teaching the concepts of peace. If Auburn Hip Hop Congress was there, Sheldon was there. Whether it was road trips to meet other young performers and writers or open mics or rap battles, Sheldon was there and he was smiling, always. He loved music and was an undercover writer. His support of local and international artists was so genuine and appreciated; it literally touched people from all over the world. The news of his passing was felt so deeply that many artists, who had just met Sheldon once or online, began to grieve with us. Many traveling performers dedicated songs, poems and even whole shows to him. But that’s not all.
I started this by saying that Sheldon led a life of service. As Sheldon began to come of age, he started thinking about his future. With his growing confidence and life experiences, he wanted to do more and make his family proud. Sheldon decided to join Americorps. This meant he would leave for Colorado and be gone for about 10 months. He would be able to come home for Christmas. A week before Sheldon left, we threw him a huge surprise going away party. Almost everyone from AHHC past and present attended. Everyone was so supportive and loving. And we said our goodbyes. But they weren't really goodbyes because we would see him at the Writing Class the next day. And then the day he left for Colorado, he stopped by my house bright and early to drop off a present he had bought for my daughter, a beautiful wall hanging of a tiger (she is obsessed with Tigers!)Unfortunately she wasn't home, so we called her so they could chat. And I got to hug him so tight that day he left California to go on a great adventure. That was a gift in itself. And we told him so many things before he left. To believe in himself, how to get along with roommates and handle conflict, that we couldn't wait to see him again, that we were so proud of him. What we didn't know to say was, “be careful walking”. We didn't know how many pedestrian deaths there were in Colorado and particularly on the road of his new home. We didn't know an Americorps member had just lost their life in March on that same highway.
But what we did know was he was loved, confident and happy. Even as Sheldon was on the plane, his Facebook filled with messages of love and support. Now, after his passing, it is filled still with messages of love…and a little something more…while our group saw Sheldon as Our Sheldon, he was the world’s Sheldon. Through memorials Chana High School and even our Writing group, we would learn how just how special he was. The story repeated by many, many young people that had either met him once or knew him well was the same…he was the first to greet the ‘new kids’ and befriend them…he was the first to notice if you have had a bad day and made it a mission to make it better…and some small chance meetings and online follow up with Sheldon possibly saved lives. Sheldon has been honored by Congress Members, Mayors and his mom even got a letter from the President. And they didn't even know him but we were so lucky that we did.
As a group we have been able to mourn together and we will get through this together. His loss has affected each one of us greatly and we are trying so hard to continue to do this great work in the community, the work that truly makes a difference for young men like Shedon.
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