A Dallas businessman knew he could help more families in North Texas and organized a massive push to fight hunger and get meals on the tables of those in need.
Two massive food drives in North Texas last month fed thousands of people. They happened at Fair Park in Dallas and AT&T Stadium in Arlington. North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank served record numbers of people at the two events held six days apart.
"Well, I was the one who came in with the crazy idea," chuckled Mitchell Ward, chair and CEO of MW Logistics in Dallas.
His company moves products for clients like Clorox, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Frito Lay, Pepsi, Mars Petcare, Best Buy, General Mills and more.
Ward also had a decade of experience with big food drives in DeSoto, and the businessman - with the encouragement of his daughter - knew he could help more families in North Texas.
Ward wanted nothing less than the largest food giveaway in North Texas vowing to deliver "a million pounds of food, 19,500 pounds of turkeys and chickens."
Ward's contacts in business and community jumped in. The Baptist Minister's Union of Dallas supplied volunteers. The head football coach at TCU in Fort Worth made the big play for turkeys.
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And when more were needed, retailers like Walmart stepped up.
"We were riding around in a refrigerated truck at night, trying to buy more turkeys," Ward said.
Trucks ready to give and families ready to receive rolled up at both events in enormous numbers showing the overwhelming need to feed and serve as the coronavirus pandemic grips North Texas.
"People dug into the vision I had and supported us any way they could to help us be successful," Ward said. "I had a passion for it. I did not want to fail. I did not let the food banks down."
In the end, it was the biggest giveaway yet, all because Ward had the vision to do something good, a value learned growing up in Lockhart.
"Caldwell County is one of the poorest counties in Texas growing up, still is," Ward said. "I had had a passion for giving back 'cause I knew what it was to live in a place that was underserved."
Football took Ward out of Lockhart, first to San Marcos where he played for Texas State University then to Dallas and the Texans, an arena football team.
Ward "had success on the field and decided Dallas would be home." After football, his goal was to start his own business and he picked logistics.
"I wanted a business that was somewhat recession-proof," Ward said. "You can't outsource (logistics) unless you wanna stop America."
He started his company in 2001, but it took a while for Ward to have the success he enjoys today. "A lot of people come in my office and see the middle of the page. You're talking to a guy who was 28 when I first started my business, went through three bankruptcies in the first 10 years," he said.
Ward persevered and now has a multimillion-dollar record of success. Yet he never forgets from where he came.
"For many African-American men, including myself, growing up in certain geographical areas and circumstances, personal and professional success wasn’t necessarily on the agenda," Ward wrote in an article called, "It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish" and posted on LinkedIn back in August as he reflected on the death of George Floyd.
"As a Black male in America, I understand the disparity of treatment of minorities systemically, socially and legally. I want to be that opportunity that the younger version of me wished I had access to when I was growing up. I want to give back, create opportunities for those that identify with me, and those who are not given the same fair and equal opportunities as the majority due to their skin color. My goal is to create the change I want to see in this industry. How are you changing your world to ensure where you started won’t determine where you finish?" he wrote.
"When people see you now, they see a much more polished version than what you were when you grew up. When you look at my pictures of a kid, no one's betting on that kid. That's where I started," Ward told NBC 5. "We all have a challenging background if you dig into it. We all came from somewhere" and we have to "push our way out of there and move toward the next level."
And as Ward climbs, he'll carry others with him whether that's in business or serving those who need a little help.
"I'm just an old country boy who wants to make it happen," he smiled.