SANTA CLARITA, California- Tragically, Paul Walker was taken from this earth in a fatal car accident leaving a fundraiser on November 30, 2013. Paul Walker was known as a Hollywood heartthrob and stared in many successful films such as Joy Ride and the Fast and the Furious franchise. His memory will live on through the silver screen as well as through the many lives he has aided through his non-profit organization, Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW,) which was founded in early 2010 in response to destructive earthquakes which devastated regions of Haiti.
After seeing the gap between the availability of resources and the need for them in areas hit by natural disasters, Walker founded a network of professional volunteers with specific skill sets including project management, logistics, heavy equipment operation, EMT, paramedic, firefighting, and healthcare services.
Since 2010, ROWW has provided emergency relief services to several countries and was even one of the first relief organizations to reach the Leyte Island in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. “We have a special love for the Philippines,” said JD Dorfman, a ROWW spokesman, “There wasn’t much relief help yet when we got there. We have a highly skilled medical team with us and we brought 1,500 pounds of medical equipment and supplies.”
ROWW has also provided post-disaster humanitarian efforts in Oklahoma City, Haiti, Alabama, Indonesia, and Chile. “Paul wasn’t someone who would just write a check and lend his name to an organization; he was the heart and soul of ROWW. Paul was the first one in and the last one out. Some people play a hero, Paul was a hero,” said Dorfman. While those associated with ROWW are no strangers to Walker’s humanitarian efforts and campaigns, to the media at large, Paul Walker flew very much under the radar.
“He didn’t want anyone to know he was there. All he wanted was a chainsaw, and (to) point him in the right direction. Paul’s fingers were as dirty as yours,” said Dorfman about Walker’s efforts in Tuscaloosa which was ravaged by ferocious twisters in April 2011. Even then, Walker was on the ground helping clear routes for community members to access their homes destroyed by tornados in hopes of salvaging any resources left still intact. The Tuscaloosa campaign was ROWW’s first humanitarian effort carried out in the United States and set the precedent for future efforts.
Dorfman also talked openly about Walker’s passing and the ongoing response from fans who have been flooding phone lines pledging their support to ROWW, “(It’s) been overwhelming. It hasn’t slowed down at all. People have offered to hold car rallies to raise money to keep Paul’s legacy alive. We have received on average 20 calls an hour wanting to help.” Walker’s work will continue to move forward as support for his cause has grown tremendously. While it is tragic to see such a talent pass away before his prime, it reassuring that Walker has encouraged countless others in futures to come, to do the best they can, with the resources they have, to provide aid for those in most need.
– Jeffrey Scott Haley