From the 5th Annual Circle of Life Breakfast: a Speech by Dan Carracino


As we are getting ready to host the 6th annual Circle of Life Breakfast which raises scholarship funds for women in our addiction treatment program, we’d like to share with you a speech made by Dan Carracino from last year’s Circle of Life Breakfast. He speaks to the incredible work done at New Directions for Women and how he first became involved with our foundation. Mr. Carracino shares with us an excerpt from a powerful speech made by Bill Wilson, Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Carracino was a Co-Producer of Bill W., a documentary that he and his partner Kevin Hanlon made to tell the story of an anonymous man who changed the lives of so many millions of people. If you would like to purchase a copy of this film, please visit Page 124.  The following is a transcript for you to follow:

Figure we’ll get this thing started here. My name is Dan Carracino. I am the chairman of the New Directions for Women Foundation. I want to thank each and every one of you for coming here this morning. I’m a firm believer that individuals can and do make an enormous difference in this world. Just by your being here, you’re really helping to support what I think is an extremely important cause in our organization, helping women find sobriety, especially mothers. I know there are a lot of things out in the world that are important, but this is pretty high on the list.

You can’t have an event like this breakfast without sponsors. So I just want to acknowledge some groups and people. If I forget anybody – where’s Tania? Where is Tania?

Response: Right there.

Okay, Tania, I was once – I ran a company, believe it or not, for like ten years, and I learned anytime you – if you’re going to be in a leadership role, if you forget things like forgetting to acknowledge some people, always make sure you know who you’re going to blame. So Tania would be the person, if I forget anybody here, that’s –

So I want to thank the Busch Firm. Elmore Toyota. For some reason, whenever I speak publically, my New York accent just – right? It’s terrible. I don’t normally sound quite so bad. Father Martin’s Ashley, Pacific Coast Recovery Center, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the Chamade Foundation, all the Crescent Butterfly supporters who are listed in the program, and a very special thank you to an anonymous donor who has invested just an enormous amount of money and time and effort in making New Directions what it is. She has, again, offered an unlimited match of all financial contributions. So if any of you are inclined to write a check for $1 million today, you’ll actually be writing a check for $2 million, not to plant any seeds or anything like that for you.

I’d also like to welcome Keith Curry. Where is Keith? This gentleman is the mayor Newport Beach, and Keith, we thank you very much for being here.

We’re doubly blessed today because we also have the former Mayor of Newport Beach here, Steve Rosansky. And where’s Steve? There we go. Thank you again, gentlemen, for coming and for showing your support in the organization. I’d also to thank my wife Allison. She’s not here with us today, not for any terrible reason. She’s in the Bahamas.

Makes you wonder how did she pull it off? Anyway, my daughter’s on spring break, so we had planned this thing a while ago. So I guess she has her priorities in order. But if it wasn’t for Allison, about 15 years ago she brought me to a fundraiser. It was over on the campus at New Directions. It was a summer afternoon. There was a young mother there holding her child. It was the first time I’d ever been exposed to New Directions and to what it was about. I didn’t know the term then, but I’m sure that she, like many of the women who come to New Directions, was a newcomer. You’ll understand why I’m using that term in a moment. But looking at her and at that child, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I could get behind something like this. This is – this matters.” Then that day sort of has taken me on this unexpected journey, especially over the last ten years.

I’ve made a documentary film about Bill W. You all have a copy of it today. I figure you were a captive audience; I would get you all copy’s. But it was actually very well reviewed. It was well received. It played in theatres for eight months last year. It’s now available on iTunes and Vudu and cable and all that stuff, and we’re hoping to get it on PBS. I can tell you there’s worse ways to spend ten years of your life than studying a man like Bill Wilson. One of the things that we came across, we didn’t know when we decided to make this film – I made it with a good friend of mine in NY – is that Bill was recorded like over 100 times in his life. There’s almost no visual material of the man, but there’s just a boat load of audio. I thought I’d just share an excerpt of a speech that he gave. For some reason this gets to me, so I hope I’ll get through it okay.

If you want a copy of this speech, I can e-mail you a copy. I can e-mail you the transcript. I can also e-mail you the actual audio. I would have played that, but it’s a little rough. My e-mail address is dan@page124.com. If you don’t write that down, no worries. The people at New Directions know how to reach me. But anyway, this is what he had to say: “When we think of our newcomers, let us not settle for comfort, for complacency, for mediocrity, because complacency and mediocrity cannot stay still. We must move to greatness, and action and spirit or we deteriorate.” I sometimes hear people – I sometimes hear that people will call AA, and obviously there’s a drunk in the household, and the poor wife calls up. Over the phone, somebody crisply says, “Does he want to stop?” “Well, I don’t know. It’s an awful state down here.” Bang; down goes the receiver. You’ve got to come and get it. Little abrupt, isn’t it?

Those of us who go to meetings, newcomers come in there. Let us be tender with them. Let us be sure that somebody receives them. Let them feel wanted and needed. Let us think of their comfort, their happiness.” It gets me because he continues in that speech about how many people don’t know and how I think he says – at that time when he made the speech, in July of 1960, he said the estimate was that 25 million people had died of alcoholism. The number of people at AA was reaching was one in 100. Now that’s over 50 years ago, and believe it or not, that number has not moved very much. It’s maybe 1-1/2 out of 100 get reached now. A lot of people die of this. It kills a lot of people.

So anyway, it just strikes me as a simple statement of how to actually be loving and tolerant to others, which – as human race, we do intolerance and hatred really well. So it’s nice to just have a sort of simple, practical – just how to treat people. Again, I’d be happy to send it to anybody who wants it. And it’s now my pleasure to introduce Devon Martin, who will be leading us in the invocation.

Thank you very much.

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