Rick Daniels image

Rick Daniels has accomplished several milestones during his life. Today, his struggles and constant desire for improvement have moved him to create a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children living with difficulties through educational services. Here he shares some highlights of a life set to give.

Rick Daniels grew up in a middle-class family home located in the city of Washington DC with his parents and three siblings. 

Growing Up

Days passed by and Rick wondered about the future and the opportunities ahead. At the same time, since an early age, Rick was attracted to fictional stories that helped him develop a creative imagination, as well as the mysterious ways in which words came to life while exploring colored tales. One of his favorite adventure stories as a kid was ‘The Call of the Wild’ by Jack London.

“Rick admired Buck’s (‘The Call of the Wild’ main character) strength, courage, and perseverance.”

However, not everything came easy for him. During Rick’s childhood, he faced many challenges in adapting to school because of his learning disability. He had trouble with reading and spelling due to lead poisoning, which led him to repeat the 4th and 6th grades, eventually provoking his expulsion from school in the 10th grade. Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties, Rick kept fighting until he reached his first milestone: getting his general educational development certificate.  

Furthermore, his conviction to overcome obstacles took him to set up his own barbershop at the young age of 10 years old, in the basement of his house. Rick remembers: “I charged my fellow peers for a haircut and a movie.” Rick also comments that he worked in several jobs where he achieved recognition for his constant improvement and the results delivered. When he distributed newspapers as a paperboy, he received many compliments for delivering them at the front door with care and on time. 

 

Rick Daniels takes New York

Years went by, and at 18 y/o, Rick moved to New York and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). He decided to start his own fashion company: ‘Foxey World Shirts’. While studying, Rick met Gail Foxey. Two years later they got married and thanks to the success of the company, they eventually moved their showroom to the Empire State building. Their first office was a loft at 147, W40 St. 

During his time as an entrepreneur, Rick and his wife created amazing designs for common folks and celebrities such as Doc Severinsen, bandleader for the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, the rock star Jimmy Hendrix, The Deftonics, Isaac Hayes, and many more.

Rick and Gail’s pieces were so popular that they were shown in popular magazines such as CQ, Vanity Fair, Essence, Ebony, and the New York Times, making Rick one of the top black designers in the 1970’s.

New Challenges, New Milestones.

After many triumphs, Rick came to a turning point in his life. He was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer called Polycythemia Vera and began treatment to fight the illness. 

Rick mentioned that it was a few years later, after battling bullying in his life in 2014, that he decided to turn his experiences into a mission to depict the struggles and mixed feelings of a victim of mistreatment. Rick decided to go forward with a plan and created his nonprofit aimed to assist children: ‘Friends of Rick Daniels.’

Since that day, Rick Daniels turned his life into stories so children could interact and read at any time. In this way, Rick shows the youth that they are not alone and that they can find hope and smiles even during the darkest times.

Rick finalizes sharing that last year, he decided to reach out to children with cancer because he first hand understands the battle they are facing and he wishes to bring them joy through colorful stories and happy endings.

“There are definitely more stories to come,” adds Rick, while he goes back to his desk to create another magical adventure.

 

Article by: Eduardo Guillen

baby with a book

The challenges to assist a child going through cancer and other life-changing illnesses are numerous. Therefore, children need continuous physical and emotional support from their parents.

A children’s book offers a gateway from the pain and emotional stress pediatric cancer involves. This aid can give the minor enough material to combine fantasy, opportunity, hope and provide a hint for the children to express themselves.

 

Color and movement


Books bring many benefits for children. Among these, we have the development of social skills and personal expression, which children will later use in the teenager, and years later, adult world, where they must face more complex social situations and fast decision making. To reach this objective, artists use vibrant colors, ink, dialogue boxes, and well-defined traces to deliver an exciting and entertaining adventure.

The children, unaware of all these signs, will begin learning codes and cultural references that they will use to solve challenges.

On this point, images and signs help children develop non-verbal skills by associating attitudes and reactions to different activities. In a children’s book, these features are displayed through graphics mounted one after the other in a sequence of events, easy to absorb for the children, giving the appearance of movement and time streaming. 

Learn and Apply


Furthermore, the vibrant colors, so popularly used to decorate children’s spaces, have a clear purpose. Different hues help connect brain pathways producing reactions and uncovering visual preferences in evidence.

The child’s first decision-making usually starts during this learning stage. At that moment, children start connecting what they see in the books with what they will see in real life.

Part of this learning is also proposed by artists who, through their work, show different degrees of space, distance, and alertness; while at the same time generate the illusion of movement that helps children relate signs to circumstances and actions.

 

 Color and Shape stimulate children’s minds.

 

Fueled by imagination and its constant search for knowledge, books help children grasp real day-by-day problems while teaching them how to use vocabulary and social skills.

Vocabulary and social skills


A book offers a new dimension full of stimulus to children’s minds. Fueled by imagination and its constant search for knowledge, books help children grasp real day-by-day problems while teaching them how to use vocabulary and social skills.

There is also the matter of fitting into a group. On this subject, even if many parents do not want to consider it as an essential matter, humans have a natural need to fit in a group, or at least to find a place in society. In this case, if children notice there is an obstacle to be included in a group they aspire to be, they will turn frustrated and blame themselves.

Furthermore, cancer is one of those diseases that will change children perception of themselves and how he interacts with social groups around him.

For sure, parents want to protect their children all the time by keeping them in a safe space, which is vital during the early stages of their upbringing. Still, mom and dad must also provide knowledge, through information and interaction, to prepare their kids to face social challenges independently.

Motivate children through imagination


By reading books, narrative elements such as plot, challenges, and expectations together with colorful images and entertaining characters, children who have cancer can explore different experiences and travel out of their beds fueled by their imagination.

This effect makes emotions such as frustration and the impossibility to play, giving the circumstances, fade away while developing creativity and strengthening their self-confidence.

 

At the same time, books also introduce children to social skills that could operate as an excellent introductory stage to familiarize the minor with plastic arts such as painting, coloring, sculpting; or even acting and singing.

An important note about this subject is that children, by themselves, will decide how to express their needs for social interaction and to which degree they prefer to do it.

 Some children and Introverts and others extroverts therefore both express their emotions in different ways.

Here is where we can find introvert and extrovert personalities and how they prefer to engage within groups.

As mentioned before, a book provides a wholesome environment for new vocabulary, which means more tools for children to express their feelings in more complex ways. In other words, if you combine these skills, you can open a gate for creativity and expression.

 

Books help to develop a personality

Metaphorically, a book could also be a person. If I ask you to name your favorite book, you probably will revive memories you experienced when you first read that piece of literature. You will address a first impression, a voice, a tone, and a feeling after having a pleasant reading.

 

Book characters can be used as tools to effectively communicate with children.

Children also get this feeling, much more if the book can project the children’s needs and feelings, even the not-so-happy ones. Having a ‘talk’ with a book can unlock hard feelings and expectations that may have been unnoticed by parents.

Therefore, fictional story characters can help children vent their emotions through coincidences and similarities with their story. In this regard, children will not feel threatened or nervous about engaging in social interactions because they control the situation and decide when to stop that interaction.

After the children have read the book, they can discuss their content freely, which opens a way for parents to talk about similarities and how the characters process their fears and condition.

Also, if the parents do not know how to engage with their kids or do not find the right words, a book can help them connect and relate to their loved ones.  A parent can personify one of the book characters and interact with their children. They can also use those ‘disguises’ to correct the kid’s behavior or empower them in their recovery process.

 

Article by: Eduardo Guillen