By: Lynn McBride
“Life is about making choices and living with them.”
– Chuck Foreman
1966. In a year marked with protests against the Vietnam war, draft dodging and young people making their voices heard, he was born. Chuck Foreman. Perhaps the era he was born in shaped the man he would become, the life he would lead. A man ready to fight for the greater good. Any day, any turf, any circumstance, he would be found doing not dodging. It was a year that many world changing events happened. Many who have been touched by his work will tell you, for them, when that boy was born in a small Texas town, it changed their world too – they just didn’t know it yet.
Chuck became a biker just a few days after he was born. His father, “Big” Chuck, was a motorcycle enthusiast since his own young days. In true biker fashion and with a nod to the carefree era, Big Chuck and Mom Linda brought their new son home from the hospital riding between them on a Harley. At age sixty seven, you would still find Big Chuck on his Harley Davidson most days. On some of those days, you could even see him riding side by side with Chuck. That wasn’t always the case.
Being young parents in the sixties, traditional family life was far from the experience Linda and Big Chuck would offer their child. It was the era of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. They intended to make the most of it. Chuck was often left with family members, or with no one at all. Roaming from one house to another, he quickly learned that smelly little boys wore out their welcome fast. He spent much of his childhood on the street.
The times he was with his parents, they moved a lot. The transient lifestyle made it hard for him to establish deep relationships and roots. From trailer parks to small apartments, to being nowhere, he had hard lessons to learn. Big Chuck eventually began a career racing Top Fuel Harleys. He broke records and on occasion gave Chuck the chance to join him at the race track. Always a character, to this day stories about him, his antics and his riding skill are told in biker circles around the world.
Chuck wanted to race. He wanted his dad to teach him. One day, when he was fourteen years old, Big Chuck came to get him. Chuck thought he was going to stay with his dad. He thought they would finally spend time together. He thought his dad wanted him.
Just a few miles down the road, in the middle of nowhere, his dad stopped and told him to go ahead and get out.
Chuck rides his motorcycle by himself most of the time, rarely seen in a group, even though his father would go on to join the Bandidos Motorcycle Club. Maybe the reasons why sprang from that day. Standing alone on the side of the road. Watching the one person he wanted to ride with driving off without a glance in the rearview mirror. And maybe it’s why he willingly offers a hand to those who have nowhere to turn. He knows exactly what it’s like to be standing in the middle of nowhere without a friend in sight.
While his parents were finding themselves and losing each other, Chuck was learning the streets. The man he became has an uncanny ability to relate to people of all classes, to read people and their intentions and to be comfortable in any neighborhood. These skills have proven invaluable in his investigation work and his mission to assist missing children. They give him an edge others do not have, and arguably make him the best missing persons investigator the world has seen.
Moving around a lot, being alone much of the time and feeling unwanted would become trademarks of his childhood. They would also become the foundation for a driving passion to make the world around him a better place.
So what do you pull out of a childhood full of loneliness? Abandonment? A childhood missing the things a child needs most?
Strength. Character. Empathy. Courage.
Chuck has all of those things, earned the hard way. He knows how to appreciate the good in everything, no matter how little there is. He knows that happiness comes from within, not from things. He knows the value of experiences.
Most importantly, he knows that anyone can choose that their circumstances will not decide their outcome. It’s your choice, make one you can live with. Chuck did.
In one of his future endeavors, he would use his independence and his perspective on all facets of the motorcycle community to join bikers from across the world for one common mission – kids.
He didn’t know it back then, but all of the experience he was gaining from a “not so positive” start would be critical to achieving huge goals. To building his own legacy.
“Milk. I can’t believe I can drink as much as I want.” – Chuck Foreman
Maybe it was a desire to gain his father’s approval, a side effect of early independence or perhaps just genetics. No matter what it was, motorcycles became a way of life early for Chuck. But they were just a backdrop to a life full of so many other things.
Chuck’s other passion called him at a young age – football.
His father completely focused on maintaining his own freedom, his mother disappearing into the bar scene and the constant moving around with bouts of being homeless and on his own. It was his reality.
Chuck became a thief. Eating was often a matter of taking plants from someone’s landscaping and selling them to local nurseries. Begging wasn’t an option for a vagabond, dirty teenage boy – no one cared.
But none of this kept him from being a star in football. Chuck was a natural athlete. He played and he played well, finding his “home” in the linebacker position. Classwork was perhaps a different story. Moving around all the time, he’d stay in school through football season then drop off. He was nearsighted, he needed glasses and he was always stuck in the back of the room. No one noticed his need, no one noticed his absence.
Failing school. Ready to give up completely. Until he met Coach Harley Bowman at Oak Ridge High School in Montgomery County.
Just one of the many quotes his students remember from him. As he has now passed, hearing others tell about him, there was no doubt that he was loved and he impacted the lives of many kids.
Chuck was no exception. He gave Chuck a different life option to look at.
Enlist. Enlist in the Army.
Travel? No classwork? A place to belong? A paycheck?
He signed his life over to the United States Military.
In that moment, everything changed. Chuck just didn’t know the scope of how much quite yet.
Getting into the military took some doing. You see, he hadn’t graduated. His mother’s feminine wiles bewitched a recruiter and Chuck was off to a new life. He did go on to earn not only his GED, but also a college degree in electronics. But that learning paled next to what his life experiences taught him.
He served approximately 10 years in the U.S. Army with an emphasis in special operations. He returned with extreme PTSD and no help in knowing what was wrong. Looking for a new mission, he returned to one of his passions – football. He spent several years coaching.
And then, things changed again. Chuck found the mission that would change the lives of many while pulling him through his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
December 20, 2009
“Mr. Foreman, I can never thank you enough for helping to save my daughter.”
Sharon requested Chuck Foreman’s help just three days prior to writing that. Her daughter had already been missing for seven months from Leakey, TX. This was to become the first official case of the Center for Search & Investigations (Team CFSI).
Success was found. So was a need.
Mr. Foreman quickly realized the need was bigger than he alone could answer. A few years and several cases later, while working the Sharon West case in East Texas, Chuck learned that not all cases have a happy ending. Sharon was Found an Angel. Chuck would be found next to his motorcycle, under a tree near where she was located, writing a program others could use.
That same base program is used to this day on every CFSI case. Nine years later. Still effective.
Now with volunteers spanning the globe and just over of 1,600 children Found Safe, CFSI is arguably the most successful missing child investigation program available to families. Their reputation for results has resulted in regular referrals and requests for help from Law Enforcement agencies across the country.
All with no monetary donations. All with no members on payroll. All with the help of community members just like you.
Mr. Foreman served the Organization from inception until 2016 as CEO and during that time nearly 900 children were Found Safe, more than 3,000 volunteers were united in the mission and more than 80,000 were added to the network. The Organization has grown tremendously and great leaders were created. This has allowed Mr. Foreman to hand off the reigns, allowing today’s leaders to handle day to day operations while he focuses on growth and taking it to the next level. Being Founder of something this impactful is for a lifetime and requires a lifetime commitment. Mr. Foreman continues to live up to this commitment daily. He remains actively involved in leading the organization – providing guidance, daily communication with other organization heads, attending speaking engagements, working with sponsors and more. Through what he has created, the others he has empowered and a drive like no other the world continues to become a better place for children.
Mr. Foreman always stresses that “it’s about where you came from, where you are and where you are going”.
This was a small peek into those three things as they pertain to his life. His hope is that you now have some things that you can take away for your own “where you’re going” and see the value in getting involved in something bigger than your own struggle as a method of healing.