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Jefferson Award: Richard Propes advocates for children victimized by violence

Posted at 8:48 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 20:48:17-04

INDIANAPOLIS — There are no limits to who's a leader.

For the past 30 years, one Indianapolis man has committed his life to preventing violence against children. For those efforts, Richard Propes is this month's recipient of the WRTV Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good.

Richard starts his day with a cup of coffee. We got him a mug that reads, " Dream it — do it" because of his positive attitude. Richard uses his wheelchair, his will and his wit to share his message.

Richard is a paraplegic double amputee born with spina bifida. Doctors told his parents he would live three days. He's now 54.

"I'm the founder of the Tenderness Tour," Richard said. "I started it in October 1989 and basically the idea that I came up with was to wheelchair around the state of Indiana. Raising awareness for Indiana, for what is now known as Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. I was raising funds for them and really came out of experiencing abuse as a child, sexual abuse."

LEARN MORE | The Tenderness Tour

It wasn't something Richard had done before.

"I just started wheeling," he said. "No one thought I'd finish. No one thought I would do it. I'd never done anything like that before."

On his Facebook page, Richard keeps a running list of children victimized by violence in Indiana since 1989.

"These 566 children in Indiana had died as a result of the violence was just overwhelming," Richard said. "I'm not just fundraising. I'm hopefully honoring the memory of the kids. Every single lap around the Circle represented the life of a child."

There have been years where Richard has wheeled in memory of children who have died and he has gone to the county where it happened.

"Anybody can be a leader, can make a difference in the community. We all have some gift to give the community," he said. "You show up. You keep showing up and loving as many people as you can. This is the perfect time in some ways because it has helped us realize — it helped us slow down."

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