| The Fireside Project was founded by Larry Tooker, 74, a Dallas area resident, businessman and parent since 1963. Having experienced The American Dream and having developed a strong sense of patriotism and appreciation for being born in this great country, Mr. Tooker realized that, in recent generations, the most important part of young people’s education is being bypassed, overlooked. That is, a love and appreciation of America and its great legacy of freedom, hope and opportunity. As Lynne Cheney recently stated in her book A Time For Freedom, “America is our home – and how lucky we are that it is.”
In 2003 Mr. Tooker began canvassing teachers, principals, administrators, parents, businessmen, immigrants, veterans and media about the need to address young people’s lack of knowledge and appreciation of their freedom and their good fortune to be an American. The response and encouragement was astonishing. 110%. Of the countless visits and interviews there was not one detractor. Not a one… Surprisingly, the most enthusiastic advocates for such an endeavor were – and still are – the teachers. Yes, the teachers…!
Still remembering today an emotional and powerful assembly at age seventeen in his own high school, Mr. Tooker knows that young people can be reached and persuaded. So The Fireside Project and Free to Be was begun funded mostly by Mr. Tooker through three years of development. AMS Production Group was contracted to produce the video segment of the program and M.A.D.D.’s Director of School Outreach was engaged as consultant to organize and budget this unique and vital effort for our high schools. There is no other such program.
This project serves America’s youth. In doing so, it also serves our great country. It serves us all. And sooner or later one of these students will be President or Secretary of State - perhaps the one who leads the world to peace. Or the doctor who cures cancer. From our audiences will come judges, ranchers, congressmen, clerks, businessmen, nurses, parents, teachers – all with solid footing grounded in patriotism and the love of freedom.