U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is helping dreams come true — or at least trying. Peoria’s former congressman is featured Monday on MTV’s “The Buried Life,” trying to help four twenty-somethings complete No. 95 on their list of 100 things to do before they die. They want to play basketball with President Barack Obama.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is helping dreams come true — or at least trying.
Peoria’s former congressman is featured Monday on MTV’s “The Buried Life” trying to help four twenty-somethings complete No. 95 on their list of 100 things to do before they die. They want to play basketball with President Barack Obama.
“We kind of share the same philosophy that (Obama) has: with enough hope, regular people can achieve extraordinary things,” said “Buried Life’s” Ben Nemtin. “We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but thought if we put it on there and committed to it, we would find a way.”
That path was through LaHood, at least in part. The guys traveled to Washington, D.C., last summer and launched a political campaign of sorts with politicians (including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner), media and anyone else who might offer leads or advice. They also visited the local YMCA where they heard a couple of political heavyweights hang out.
Their plea reached someone from the U.S. Department of the Interior who arranged the meeting with LaHood, who they said came across as a nice guy, not a stuffy politician.
“He was a complete gentleman and really down to Earth. We talked about family, our project and why we wanted to play basketball with the president,” Nemtin said of the 25-minute meeting.
After hearing their story, LaHood made a call to Obama’s communication director.
“I will tell you right now they will cause no embarrassment to the president at all. I’ll vouch for them,” LaHood said while on the phone.
“I had a great visit with the fellows from ‘The Buried Life,’ Ben, Dave, Duncan and Jonnie, and was happy to make a call to the White House to try to get them a game with President Obama. I don’t know how successful we were since the president’s a busy man, but I wish them well in working through their list,” LaHood said Wednesday.
“The Buried Life” follows four friends traveling around the country fulfilling a bucket list of things they want to do before they die. Then they help a stranger fulfill something they haven’t done in their own life.
“It was about the challenge for us. We started this project four years ago because we wanted more out of life,” said Jonnie Penn. “No. 95 was the hardest thing we could think of. I can say as fun as all the tasks are, when we step back and look at these things as a whole, it’s when we get to help other people. Those are the items that we get the most satisfaction out of this project.”
As for whether or not the guys actually got court time with Obama, we’ll have to wait until next week.
“With March Madness just around the corner, maybe they’ll be content watching basketball for a while instead of playing,” LaHood said.
Karen McDonald can be reached at (309) 686-3285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.