Noel Dobbins, A Man of Inspiration
In just over a year, a dream of having a few murals in the upstate historical Village of Lyons N.Y. to help with the revitalization of downtown has turned into “Mural Mania.” This all came to fruition with the help of my dear friend Noel Dobbins. Noel was a man full of vision and full of pain. Noel fought a tough battle with scarladerma, for 25 years with, but he never let his handicap get in his way. By the time I became acquainted with Noel at his dad’s funeral in January of 2007, he had already lost three limbs. I approached Noel on that dark cold rainy day in January and mentioned my idea of a program to paint historical murals all around the town. Noel and I hit it off immediately sharing e-mail accounts and cell phone numbers. I received my first e-mail from Noel at a time when a community mural was being painted in honor of his dad, Winston Dobbins. Noel wrote, “Can I bring my kids to help with the mural this time,? We were well along with painting the mural titled “Winston’s Dream, with semi-professional artists, but I thought to myself, how I can I involve kids in painting? It just happens to be that we needed a sign painted for the farmers’ market. With the help of mural artist James Zeger, his children painted the farmers’ market sign. At that moment I witnessed a miracle! Through his children’s hands, Noel painted his dreams. I will never forget that moment, when his daughter Hailey said. “I ride horses, I go downhill skiing, but Mini Mural Mania is my favorite thing of all.”
From that day, on our mission was to spread the magic of Mural Mania and Mini Mural Mania or as we often referred to it, Mural Camp for Kids. That was the beginning of the dream of having children paint murals side by side across the world to promote a better tomorrow. Noel and I spent the next nine months bringing our dream to fruition. In my wildest dreams I never thought we would paint four murals in five short months. Noel’s passion for success drove away his inner pain. Besides working with on “Mural Mania”, Noel was heavily involved with returning veterans from Iraq, helping them deal with the loss of their limbs. Noel helped them transfer the emotions of depression into hope. A hope that they can make a difference in this world, even through they were often missing both of their legs.
The hope that this world will someday
Be a place of Joy
Goodwill to Men and Peace on Earth
Will guide the world somehow
Noel had another dream. That dream was of having 50 miles of murals along the Erie Canal. I remember several evenings of conversation about how we could make this happen. Noel planted the seeds with other communities, calling other community leaders and attending other mural dedications. Noel’s mission of 50 miles of murals was just under way when Noel died in October of 2007. He never let that pain stop him from making a dream happen. From his hospital bed and only a week before he died, Noel called Golden Paints to try to get paint for the next mural. He never saw that next mural, but the seeds he planted are now turning into the longest span of murals in the world.
I am asking for your help in helping to spread Noel’s dream of a world of murals and a mural camp for kids. There is a reason I met Noel a year ago, and that was to carry on his dream for a better tomorrow. I received this e-mail from the director of programming at the Public Broadcasting Station WCYN in Syracuse. Renee Devesty met Noel on Labor Day 2007, at the New York State Fair. That was the last day Noel was in the public eye, but he made an indelible impression. On Jan. 31, I sent out an e-mail that I had received from Noel on April 23, 2007, which was the day after the “Winston’s Dream” mural went up in honor of his dad.
“It’s almost kind of a let down after everything yesterday, but I want to keep the momentum going on all this. We can continue to work on the park, new mural downtown, but the key is not to let up. With Corky possibly doing work w/Sean and our mural going up downtown, things are going to look great.
This is the E-mail I received from Renee DeVesty from WCYN on Feb. 1
How touching it was to read Noel’s words. My best friend died in 2001 and I still feel her loss. But I do know that I am stronger with the amazing grace, unwavering perseverance and everlasting courage her friendship instilled in me during the 30 years we were best friends. No one will ever forget Noel because of you. His legacy will live on through you and it is your mission to fulfill his dreams — because he cannot. And sometimes I think that is why we meet these beautiful souls on our paths – so we can live out our shared dreams through each other. You are keeping his dream alive Mark, and he is very proud of you!
I am asking everyone to help make Noel’s dream a reality. As Noel said he his first e-mail, “Can I bring my kids?” It’s time to bring the children of the world together to paint a mural, and build a mural camp, where the children from all over the world can spread their visions and dreams for a new Renaissance. As Noel said, “The key is to not let up.”
Mark DeCracker, October 2007