Philanthropist to speak at Xenia

Because he said so

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]



XENIA — A promise.

Almost everybody will make one from time to time — whether it’s to quit smoking or to lose weight. And almost everybody will fail to keep one from time to time.

But Ohio native Alex Sheen is hoping to change that trend. The 31-year-old started the non-profit Because I Said I Would — an international social movement dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept — and is bringing his message to Xenia High School Tuesday, Jan. 31.

“People don’t really keep promises much anymore,” Sheen said by phone from his home in suburban Cleveland. “That has a pretty big effect on society. We’re trying to change that momentum. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like much.”

But in reality, it is a big deal.

Sheen has started six local chapters — three in Ohio — where volunteers come together to help people make a promise and keep a promise. The chapters establish a presence in the community and offer the opportunity to help residents make and keep their promises.

Sheen gives speeches around the country about the importance of a promise, which is what he will try to convey to the Xenia students.

“It’s great to teach children math, reading and science,” he said. “(But) if we don’t teach our kids how to be decent human beings to one another, what’s the point of society? Their commitments do matter. I’m going to call them into action to make that promise.”

Sheen has also developed character education plans that teachers can use in the schools for free.

“It also causes lots of problems when that character isn’t there,” he said.

Sheen started his organization after his father died in 2012. According to Sheen, his immigrant father was “old school” in that he always made good on promises.

“It’s kind of hard making it on your own,” Sheen said. “He was a very hard worker. That’s what I remember.”

When the older Sheen said he would do something, he did it.

“I didn’t really appreciate this until I had to write my father’s eulogy,” Sheen said.

He began by offering “promise cards” on which friends, families and colleagues could write a promise they would keep. Some were simple, such as a little boy promising not to hit his brother as much. Others were powerful, such as someone fighting through a heroin addiction promising not to attempt suicide.

As of November 2016, more than 5.46 million cards have been distributed free of charge to 153 countries. Sheen has reached nearly 94,000 school-aged children through school speeches and his YouTube channel has nearly 11,800 subscribers.

“Clicks, likes and shares are not really going to change the world,” Sheen admitted. “The promises we make, make this world.”

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Because he said so

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.