Most viewers of “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” see the show’s cast as nothing more than a group of spoiled, plastic rich kids. Some don’t even think they’re real people at all. So one of the show’s stars, 18-year-old Dieter Schmitz, decided to change the public’s perception of him and his fellow OC-ites. And he’s enlisted some pop-punk all-stars to help him do it.
Schmitz, now a freshman at San Diego State University, created Running Home 4 Teens, a charity event designed to raise money for teenagers suffering from depression and chemical dependency. His idea was simple: people could go to his Web site (RunningHome4Teens.com) and sponsor him as he ran and biked the 73 miles from SDSU to his home in Laguna Beach. All proceeds would then be donated to the national nonprofit organization Suicidal Awareness Voices of Education.
When Schmitz first began training for his journey back in October, his idea did garner some media attention, thanks largely to his connection to “Laguna.” But when two of pop-punk’s heavyweights — Blink-182 and New Found Glory — found out about his cause and got involved, things really started blowing up.
The bands are auctioning off autographed instruments — a Fender Strat and snare drum from Blink, another autographed Strat from NFG — on eBay to raise money for Schmitz’s run. So far, bids on the gear have topped $1,740.
“I wake up and seriously can’t move. I just want to sleep all day,” Schmitz wrote on his Web site. “But then people always seem to come forward to inspire me further. Blink-182 and New Found Glory, for example. Huge bands [that] have both donated a signed guitar and more for the cause. People that could overlook this cause not only acknowledge what I am doing, but go out of their way to help. It’s amazing and I can’t thank either of [them] enough.”
Schmitz’s journey will begin on December 19, when he’ll leave SDSU’s campus at 5 a.m. His goal is to complete the trip by 5 p.m. that same day with his arrival at Laguna Beach High School (yes, the same school featured on the show — Schmitz’s co-stars Stephen and Trey are scheduled to host the event). Schmitz hopes to raise $10,000 to donate to SAVE, and based on the response he has gotten already, he intends to make Running Home 4 Teens an annual event.
“Over 70 percent of our donations have been from outside of California … how huge is that?” he wrote. “This run has touched many lives, and for that I am amazed.”