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Rollin’ From The Heart

The Ian Poods Barry Foundation

Anybody who’s had the opportunity to speak with John Barry, cofounder of Rollin’ From The Heart Foundation along with his wife Alison, will quickly realize the depth of love this mother and father have for their late son, Ian. Known to his friends and family as “Poods,” Ian passed away in 2012 at the early age of 22. Since then, his parents, John and Alison, his sister, Kiva, along with Poods’ friends and family, have been filling the void in their life in the best way they know how—by spreading love.

Their organization, Rollin’ From The Heart, was established to give disadvantaged youth and young adults opportunities to skate, surf and camp while also focusing on helping them develop skills necessary for success in life. “We didn’t set out to start a nonprofit,” says Barry. “However, after Ian passed, so many people in the community came up and told us how much Ian had impacted their lives. They kept telling us that just being around him made them want to be a better person; that their outlook on life had changed, just from knowing our son. It was so touching. Just to know that Ian, who always saw the good in people, made that big of an impression on those around him. Imagine what it’s like to hear that.”

Skateboard Rolling from the HeartAccording to Barry, Ian was a simple guy who loved his friends, skating, surfing, camping—and motorcycles, too. He was also quiet and shy and struggled with OCD and anxiety. “But he never focused on those things; he just kept rolling along and doing what he loved. And it made an impact. The funny thing is, Ian wasn’t ever trying to do anything to make an impact. He was just walking through life that way. After he passed, we were so moved by this incredible outpouring of love from his friends and the community that we knew we had to do something. There was just something there, something magical that we had to try and continue.”

With Barry’s background and prior experience working with inner city kids, catering to that population seemed a natural fit. “We knew we had to do something that centered around all of Ian’s passions so we thought, ‘let’s take this to the kids who either can’t afford it or can’t get to it for whatever reason’,” says Barry. Once they put the word out, there was no shortage of people that wanted to hop on board and join their efforts, including David Stoddard, Mike Chapin and Jayson Young, the owners of Brixton, an Oceanside-based apparel and accessories company where Ian was employed. “Ian had known and touched a very strong pool of people in the community who really wanted to keep his spirit alive,” says Barry. “I could tell you so many heartwarming stories about him.”

Barry says that one of the stories that really touches his heart involves Ian’s sole tattoo. “He’s got a lot of friends who are inked up, with lots of tattoos on their bodies. While Ian thought they were cool, he never really felt the need for one. However, one day he decided to give himself a poke and stick tattoo on his leg. It was of a heart. When his friend Peter (Stoddard) saw the homemade tattoo, he asked Ian ‘why the heart?’ And Ian just told him ‘because I love everybody.’” Little did Ian know that his homemade tattoo was going to become a symbol of his generous and loving spirit. “In the past few years, at least 50 people have shown us that they’ve gotten a tattoo in honor of Ian.”

Rollin’ From The Heart events include giving boards, pads and helmets to kids at residential youth shelters, homeless shelters, group homes and schools; sending kids to camp; and skate and surf jams as well as surf lessons at local beaches. “And you know, something magical happens when we do these events. And not just to the kids who are in the programs, but also to the skaters and surfers and motorcycle riders that come out to help teach the kids. Something really magnificent is happening to them, too—something that is much bigger than all of us.”

Rolling from the heart motorcycleBarry shares that the passing of his beloved son has put him and his wife on a spiritual journey. “We’re still trying to put the pieces together. You just never get over losing a child. And as time marches on, I become more enamored with my son. He was such a kind, compassionate kid. He was so nonjudgmental. That’s what drove me, and continues to drive me to do this. To be someone like him, to have the ability to open up your heart to so many different kinds of people. If we can spread some of those qualities of kindness and compassion in our own community, then we’re doing alright.”

For more information on Rollin’ From The Heart, call 760-585-8454 or visit RollinFromTheHeart.org.

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