Could you forgive someone for intentional acts that result in deadly consequences? Gary Weinstein can. His compelling story has resonated across Southeastern Michigan for seven years, and now with people across the globe.
In May 2005, Mr. Weinstein’s wife and two children were waiting to turn into the orthodontist parking lot when Tom Wellinger plowed his SUV into Judith Weinstein’s Honda Accord at 70 mph, pushing the car into oncoming traffic. Wellinger didn’t swerve, hit the brakes, or take any action to avoid the accident. Mr. Wellinger had a blood alcohol level of 0.43 − over 4 times higher than the legal limit. Wellinger was sentenced to 19-30 years for three counts of second-degree murder.
There are so many connections between these two men. Both men are fathers; their homes are within a mile of each other and their children attended the same schools. Their names are on the same page of the local telephone book. They had a mutual friend, Shawne Duperon, a local filmmaker.
Mr. Weinstein has now decided to tell his story as part of a documentary film and healing campaign being produced by Ms. Duperon called Project: Forgive. Ms.Duperon said the project is a deep inquiry into what is forgiveness; it will look at what happens when we forgive and what happens when we don't.
Weinstein has been able to forgive Tom Wellinger, and he is hoping that his story will help others heal, too. He said his sole focus is "how to go forward and how to make a difference in the world." Four months after Mr. Weinstein lost his family, he lost his jewelry store in a fire. He said in that moment he made a choice: he could run from his problems or face them and heal. One day, he spoke to Tom Wellinger from the Oakland County jail. They did not talk about the accident; only about forgiveness. Mr. Wellinger asked if Gary could forgive him, in which Mr. Weinstein responded “Can you forgive yourself?” Forgiving Tom Wellinger may not make sense to many of us, but it makes perfect sense to Gary Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein says he now lives in happiness and he wishes that for Wellinger’s family, too.
Through word-of-mouth online and in-person, Project: Forgive has already raised over $30,000 of its $100,000 goal. Celebrity author Jack Canfield of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series has signed on to be a part of the film. Scott Rosenfelt, the producer credited with discovering Julia Roberts and creating the "Home Alone" movies, is co-producing with Duperon. Other celebrities are on board as well.
Duperon is also collecting stories from around the world detailing how people have forgiven. She hopes the stories will have as much impact as those in Jack Canfield's "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.”
To learn more about the project, or become a backer or story contributor, visit Project: Forgive.
Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.