Doc Hendley

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Doc Hendley CNN
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Biker. Bartender. Tattooed. “Rough around the edges.” It’s hard to imagine how the same man can also be called a humanitarian, philanthropist, NGO founder, and hero. That exactly what makes Dickson Beattie "Doc" Hendley extraordinary. He doesn’t have an illustrious educational background. A C-student is how he’d describe himself - an average guy who happens to care so much for others that he literally risked his life to get results. He founded “Wine to Water” after a stint in Darfur at the height of the genocide. His 501 (c)(3) non-profit aid organization has helped thousands of people in 13 different countries. Yes, he’s a CNN Hero.


Why Doc Hendley is Extraordinary

Doc Hendley is not your typical do-gooder. He looks more like a bartender and a biker. Truth is, he is a biker who became a bartender, and then decided to seek his purpose in life, finding himself in Darfur seeing the water crisis first-hand. It is not known to many that water kills more people than cancer, malaria, and AIDS; over one-billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. They are so desperate to quench their thirst that they drink murky water not fit for consumption.

Most deaths due to water-related diseases are children whose immune systems are strong enough to combat bacteria in the water. Their mothers and fathers look on helplessly while their children’s lives hang in the balance. They knew very well that they should not be drinking such dirty water, but what choice did they have?

Bartender-Turned-CNN Hero

The situation in Darfur, a country gripped by genocide and never-ending civil war, is unimaginable for people like Doc who hails from the United States of America, where even the poorest can access clean drinking water. Seeing children die not because from, the war, but from drinking dirty water, was something Doc simply could not ignore.

Using his bartending connections and expertise, he established a non-profit organization called “Wine To Water.” According to him:

"One of the biggest things I took away from bartending was my ability to create relationships. You’re only good as a bartender if you have the ability to create a relationship with the person sitting on the other side of the bar. If you don’t have the ability to make that person want to come back and hang out with you, then you’re not going to succeed. I didn’t have all the technical skills that everyone else had in the beginning, but I looked at things differently. The first place I went was Darfur, and it was six months after my first event. I lived there for a year. The thing I noticed the most was that the other organizations with the engineering skills saw water as the only problem, so they’d drill a well in the ground and then leave. Instead of just saying, “Okay, this water is dirty, so let me go and drill a well in the ground,” my first concern was to get to know these people, to see what had already been done, and to identify what has and hasn’t worked. I found out that just throwing a well in the ground that costs $10,000 isn’t always the best fix. But I had to form relationships with the people to see that." (SOURCE: Imbibe)

It was not long before Doc Hendley, an average student, was awarded the “CNN Hero of the Year” award in 2009. Out of over 9,000 submissions, he found himself in the Top Ten.

A Father to Two Sons

Since founding his organization, Doc has never slowed down. He even took his family, including his two sons, to places where he works so they may understand what it’s like to live with very little resources.

When Don was asked how parenthood changed him, this is what he had to say:

"We decided to work in post conflict areas after Darfur because we began to focus more on the sustainability of our projects. That being said many of the places I go are still dangerous and I still take way more risks than most would. The thing that has changed is that I used to not really be afraid and I guess I was a bit reckless. Now even though I still take those risks, I have this element of fear that I am not used to. I guess it’s just being afraid that I will never get to see my wife and kids again if something happens. Hell, I’m even a little jumpy now on the plane on the way over to a place. I reckon having babies has just turned me into a big baby." (SOURCES: Penguin)

You may help Doc Hendley’s “Water to Wine” organization by visiting their website, found in the “Contacts Tab” of this profile.

Top Reasons why Doc Hendley is Extraordinary

  1. He founded “Wine to Water,” an organization that helps bring clean water to places that need it by holding wine-tasting events and other fundraising projects.
  2. He was a C-student who never set out to do something heroic, but is now spearheading an organization that has helped 250,000 people in 17 different countries.
  3. He was included in CNN’s “Top Ten Heroes” in 2009.
  4. He is a biker, and bought his first Harley Davison when he was 17 years old.
  5. From being a bartender, he is now an esteemed speaker who mobilizes people to help resolve the water crisis.

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