When Holton was hurt by his nanny back in December of 2014, it wasn’t only his life that was changed forever.
As the months piled on after Holt’s injury, I found myself on Facebook every day, writing about our family’s struggles. I don’t know why I did it, but something inside me felt an urge to describe what we were going through to whoever wanted to listen. To the best of my ability, it was unfiltered, raw, and very much in the moment.
At its core, writing was a therapeutic exercise for me personally and allowed me to handle some of the darkest days of my life. But more than just a way to blow off steam into the universe, it oddly landed me a job working for Howard Stern.
About a month after we returned home from the hospital, I got a Facebook message from a woman I’d never met asking if I was looking for work. I was not. No, instead of work, I was spending 8 hours a day on the phone yelling at various insurance agents, trying to figure out how to set up the new life my son medically demanded. For the remaining 16 hours each day, I was having a good old-fashioned nervous breakdown mixed with a hint of sleep.
However, she persisted.
She told me she thought I was a talented writer, noticed I made a lot of Stern Show references in my posts (#ackack), and knew I came from the unscripted world of television. She felt, in her words, that she had the perfect job for me. And after hearing her out, I thought so, too.
Before Holton's injury, I had paid my bills since the early 2000s by producing and directing an endless stream of guilty-pleasure programs like "Dance Moms," "Finding Bigfoot," and "Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy." Sure I wasn't a lawyer like my mom always dreamed, but I was attempting to film vicious beasts rumored to be able to destroy a human's life just by a swing of the arm! I'm telling you, "Dance Moms" was dangerous work! Watch below. That's me about to take a purse to the skull.
Bruising aside, I thoroughly loved my career and (mostly) enjoyed working with countless casts and crews over the years. And for the record, the real Bigfoot never laid a hand on me. Total gentleman.
However, only four months after Holt’s injury I made a massive career change and accepted that stranger's offer. I took a desk job in Los Angeles as the Lead Editorial Editor for the Howard Stern Show. Although the show is famously recorded in New York, the company that originally closed the deal to build the new Stern Show website was located in Santa Monica, CA, about 5 miles from my home. Basically, I landed a job that no longer required me to travel and for a show that I idolized. At a time when the world felt like it was crumbling at my feet, this was a welcomed life change.
Ultimately, I was hired to run a small team of pithy, sun-deprived digital writers and oversee a brand-new website along with the show’s social media presence. I was also told that I’d have a lot of freedom in creating our team’s online content and that this job would be a launching pad for much bigger things in the Stern universe. Amazing, right?
Well, the freedom to create funny, unique content never came to fruition, nor was the new website a launching pad for anything beyond hand cramps from cleaning up the sloppily kept, decade-long website archive. Guess the execs at the company I was working for and the main players in the Stern world didn't see eye-to-eye on the role of the website. Although pretty to look at, the site is really just a simplified relay of the live show through softly written articles designed to not have much personality. This was not fun, not funny. Kinda boring, actually.
Regardless of the creativity lockdown our team felt, working in that space still served as a much-needed reprieve from my home life, which had evolved into a daily battle zone against my son's brain injury. Even though the job lacked the creative release I pined for, I enjoyed my time working behind the scenes for one of the greatest shows to ever exist—and deep down I wish I was allowed the freedom to make a bigger impact during my time there. On the plus side, I did learn a lot about the digital space, which is why I can format this article correctly. More importantly, the job unintentionally gave me the perspective I needed to make the next important change in my life.
After spending two and a half years launching the new Howard Stern Show site and helping create the foundation of the recently updated Sirius app, I made my way back into the world of TV. It didn't take long to realize the fire that was burning inside of me was no longer about creating content, but rather helping people. More specifically, families with special needs children.
At 40 years old, I dug deep into what’s left of my tired and tested soul and made a concrete decision on what I wanted to do with my remaining time on this planet. In addition to my nonprofit Holton’s Heroes, which I founded in 2015, I recently launched California Advocacy Group with my friend and fellow special-needs parent Judith Kogan. This new company specializes in helping families with children diagnosed with or suspected of having developmental disabilities—from mild to severe—obtain the tools, programs, and social services needed for the best quality of life.
When I moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia almost 20 years ago, I thought I was following my passion in life, but it wasn't very long ago that I discovered my true calling. I never expected that working for the Howard Stern Show would take a back seat to anything else in life, but that's exactly how my life turned out.
As proud as I am for the work that I've done in entertainment, I'm excited to truly be able to make a difference in people's lives through advocacy. I invite you to follow our Facebook page and share our company with those you love.
To learn more visit us at www.caadvocacygroup.com