The Story Behind the Shirt and making the right choice

Choose Wisely Shirt

I understand that a lot of you came up and you were picked on. […] You were the one that was put down. You were the one that was beat. I understand that. And I get that.

And you get this flame. You get this ability to actually break into computer systems to take the power back and get some revenge. And I know what that feels like. But you have to rise above it. You have to be better. Don’t justify doing bad things.

When I was growing up, I had this picture in my home. It is now in the official Black Hills Information Security bathroom.

Growing up I had this picture in every single home that I lived in. It was drawn by my godfather and let’s just say he had a first person perspective in drawing this picture. And as I was growing up, my mother would periodically point this out to me and say, “John, you do not want to end up in prison. You don’t want to be like that.”

She knew that she had to fight constantly to try to make sure that I went on the proper path. So I always had this picture. This picture was outside of my bedroom all the while I remember growing up. It was something that was with me at all times. And I still have it to this day and I’m never getting rid of it.

It’s still there as a constant reminder because when I was growing up, I wanted to be Superman. […] I desperately wanted to be Superman and my mom made this cape for me.

My mom, about a week before she passed away, she pulled this cape out. She handed it to me. She said, “I’m glad that you made the right choice.”

-John Strand, DerbyCon talk 2017
Talking about his mom, Rita, and the lessons he learned from her.


In memory of Rita Strand 1953-2016