This Duo Is Here To AWAKEN You

The awakening project comes to Howell

The Awaken Project came to Howell, Tuesday, Feb. 25, to focus on heroin use. For founder Joe Richardson, former professional baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, the mission is personal. Father of three children, Joe lost his only son, BJ, to a heroin overdose Aug.12, 2012.  BJ’s death was a tragic event in Joe’s life, and Joe joined with friend Jeff Mozingo, a professional percussionist and owner of Mozingo Music. Mozingo met Joe at a golf tournament and then the two went to a pool party where Mozingo met BJ a month before his passing.

Joe decided to start going to parent meetings and essentially anywhere he could to spread the message about what he and his family went through, but it just wasn’t panning out the way he wanted. This was where Mozingo stepped in. The duo decided to create The AWAKEN Project and combine their talents together to try to spread the message in a more unique way.

“I received our 5103c (Non-Profit Organization) paperwork from the state of Missouri, Aug.12 2013,” Richardson said.

The Awaken Project was an official organization one year to the day of BJ’s passing, and the men took off from there having their very first show September 2013.

 “The first time you ever do something like this, and you try to do something of this magnitude, you think you did everything right. I know we made a difference,”Joe said.

To kick off, Mozingo performs a drum solo to start every show, and it wasn’t the same from what is now.

 “We didn’t have a real set drum solo. Sometimes the drum solo would go 20 minutes. Sometimes the drum solo would go 12 minutes. We didn’t really have anything set. I fed off the audience, and if the audience was really into it and I’d go a bit longer and I’d do different things. It wasn’t real consistent,” Mozingo said.

Both also agreed that there were things to learn.

 “The other thing we both had to learn was how to learn to be better public speakers,” Mozingo explained.

Things have changed over four years with how the show is orchestrated.

 “Now we have this running like a fine tune machine. We set up quicker, we tear down better, our shows are more in-sync, and they are more flowing,” Joe said.

 “Now we’ve got everything on a computer instead of me being in charge of all the other music that was going on. It’s a video and there’s a click and there’s cues. It’s the exact same show every single time which makes it a lot easier,” Mozingo said.

The show isn’t all of what makes up The Awaken Project. It is the emotion and the message that the show is trying to pour out into the kids.

“I love going into schools and teaching, and seeing the look on kids’ faces when they experience music. Music allows walls to come down to where they are more apt. to listen to the presentation as opposed to going in there and starting to talk. I play music that they can relate to. I listen to the words of the songs I choose as well as what’s going on the video,” Mozingo said.

Through music, the show works on getting kids to make good choices

 “It has a message where it takes them on a journey to where their hearing wonderful music that’s uplifting them, they are hearing music that is making them angry, they are hearing music that makes them feel really good. They are hearing and seeing a video that can bring all those emotions into play, and show that drugs should not have part in your life. The drug that you need is music. It’s a natural high that you can only get with music,” Mozingo said.

The show combines two different people from different lifestyles and backgrounds.

 “You put sports and music together. People think that they are so opposite and they are so different, and I totally disagree with that. Every sporting event has music playing between innings, between quarters, between periods. That’s how they get the crowd pumped up, and it’s how they get the players pumped up, so music has an intrical part in sports,” Mozingo said.

Helping kids is  a reason to why they continue to do this. In Joe’s case it is not all about his son; one big reason why this all started was to let people know why they need to be careful and not to go down a path that will lead them somewhere very dark and scary that will not be forgiving.

 “I don’t ever want to see another kid hooked on heroin or have to go through what I’ve seen my own son go through. The motivating factor is preeminently because of my son. Now I tell you this isn’t about my son anymore. I’m doing this because of my son, but this is about you,” Joe said.

The Awaken Project hopes not to scare kids, but rather hopes to help them open their eyes and see the reality of this monster which is heroin from someone who has been there for someone who lived that life.

 “You have a seven percent chance of living when you become a heroin addict,” Joe said.