Making a DIFFERENCE Wishing Well — 04 December 2012
Spreading Hope – Two Decades on Death Row

Photo: Carrie Brummer (left) with Speaker/Author Kerry Cook (right)


We were very fortunate in my school community to have speaker Kerry Cook share his story and experience. His experience is so powerful I wish everyone could have the opportunity to see him. He held an audience of hundreds of teenagers in rapt attention for over an hour. Some may recognize his name, which appeared in Texas newspapers since the 1970s and because Mr. Cook is the author of Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn’t Commit.

Kerry Cook was on Death Row for 20 years, held accountable for a rape and murder he did not commit. (Thank you to DNA evidence that has since exonerated him, while the real murderer, identified, remains unprosecuted). He has faced real horrors, the kinds we imagine in movies and novels, and what was the story he shared with faculty and students? One of determination, forgiveness, and love.

While Mr. Cook has lost so many years of his life, and so much more to this injustice, he stood infront of our community to share how important it is to fight for what you believe in and to never accept defeat. I don’t think there was a single dry eye in our auditorium that day. He said to our students, if I can come out of this experience so too can you face your challenges.

When we face problems in our lives there are times they might feel insurmountable. It can feel like no one understands, like you are all alone. This is a challenge we can all face in our lives at one time or another. Thankfully, few have had to face the abuse and adversity of Mr. Kerry Cook. Yet, this man gives back to communities around the world by sharing his story and promoting ideas of hope. I believe he is sustained in part by the young people he now gets to work with, and by the family he now has.

What made this experience all the more special and important to me was that a student from our community met Mr. Cook over a summer holiday while she was on a leadership workshop. She was so moved by her experience that she arranged for Mr. Cook to visit the UAE and speak to our student body. Mr. Cook not only changed this young person’s life by encouraging her to take initiative to share his story with others, our students took all of this more to heart because one of their own arranged for this person to come talk to them. Everyone, teenagers included, are so capable of making a community better. All it takes is a bit of determination and perseverance.

There is hope out there if you choose to hold onto it. Determination is about not giving up.

Interested in reading more about Kerry Cook? Check out his website: You too, could have him come visit your school or community. I highly encourage you to take the initiative and learn more about this amazing person.

Carrie Ellen Brummer, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Carrie is an artist, a teacher, and a dreamer. She has taught Visual Arts for 8 years and is now an administrator at a school in Dubai. Carrie is also a practicing artist who has had art exhibits in both the United States and Dubai. For more information about Carrie’s work visit her Blog, follow her on Twitter or contact her at opalartist (at) yahoo (dot) com

Related Articles


(1) Reader Comment