Three and a half years ago, before I embarked on this crazy ramen dream, there was a noodle shop in The City of Industry that helped me spark my future as a ramen chef. Wonton Forest, as it was called, was my home away from home. A local noodle shop where I could unwind the day with friend and owner Paul Lam, a few Jack and Cokes, and anyone else that wanted to join in. On occasion, a gentleman named Phong Diep, who I later learned was Paul's best friend, would sometimes join us in relishing these times of apprehensive change. Phong's presence, who always had this relaxed coolness to him, was always a welcome calm. I was never as close to Phong as I was with Paul, but his influence in Paul's life was apparent even before I met him. An avid cyclist and a love for the active outdoors, Paul would mention Phong's name in almost every deep conversation we shared, with or without him being present. That said, any true friend of Paul's is a true friend of mine. And when a true friend needs my help, I will try to help them in any way that I can.
|Phong and Paul at Paul's wedding|
About a month ago, Phong was involved in a bicycle accident that resulted in a dislocated shoulder, a broken clavicle, four broken ribs, and a fractured skull so severe that his brain began hemorrhaging. After multiple surgeries and weeks in intensive care, the doctors have stabilized him enough to begin the road to recovery. This is all very good news in light of the severity of his accident, but Phong's road to recovery will be a long one that will require all of our support. As he slowly awakens from his coma, the extensiveness of his brain injury is still very much an unknown. There are no guarantees that he'll ever be the same, but with hope, love and support, and our prayers everything is possible.
|Hope and Love|
As Phong's medical bills begin to mount, I've struggled with trying to find a way to help him and his family get through this tough time. And no matter how hard I tried to come up with a solution, I knew that there wasn't much I could do alone. So with Paul's consultation and his approval, I've decided to create a unique fundraiser in the name of Phong Diep.
Almost a year ago I started growing a beard (as you've probably noticed). Without much reason to why I started growing it, I simply wanted to see if I could go a full year, resisting all urges to shave it. (Call it a test of self-discipline if you will.) Within a week, that full year will come to an end and although I will have personally accomplished the goal I set out to achieve, I will graciously take the fate of my beard out of my own hands for a greater cause. Honestly, I've come to like my beard and as much as I wanted to shave it at times, an equal part of me wanted to save it. I've also encountered an equal amount of people who think I should shave it, as well as, if they think I should save it. All said, I've set up two separate fundraisers with both benefitting our precious friend Phong Diep: Save the Beard! or Shave the Beard! Whichever fundraiser raises the most money will determine the fate of my beard. Yeah, I know it's kind of weird asking you for your money to vote for something so meaningless as the fate of my beard, but I hope you can overlook that and use it as a way to help our friend in need.
At the end of the fundraiser, I will either shave my beard or let it grow at least until the LA Marathon in March. If you don't feel like participating in either fundraiser, you can always participate in my friend Paul's: http://phongdiep.chipin.com/phong-diep-fundraiser. He will be running the LA Marathon this year in honor of Phong and the more support he can get the better. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. As a reassurance, 100% of all donations will go towards Phong's medical expenses. If you are unable to make a donation at this time, please hope and pray for Phong and perhaps forward this to a friend. Cuz when I finally do open up my ramen shop in LA, I will look forward to Phong being able to cycle down and critique one of the very first bowls. Thank you all so very much.
For updates on Phong Diep's status please follow Team Phong Diep or Phong Diep Fundraising Event.
"A warrior of light
knows that he has much to be grateful for.
He was helped in his struggle by the angels;
celestial forces placed each thing in its place,
thus allowing him to give of his best.
That is why, at sunset, he kneels and give thanks
for the Protective Cloak surrounding him.
His companions say:
'He's so lucky!'
But he knows that 'luck' is knowing
how to look around him and see where his friends are..."
-The Zahir by Paolo Coelho