E83 – When your cause goes viral, with Hungry Heroes Founder Amanda Riggan
Amanda Riggan, Founder of Hungry Heroes

E83 – When your cause goes viral, with Hungry Heroes Founder Amanda Riggan

It’s not everyday that you have to deliver 50 packages.

Unless you’re a FedEx driver.

In which case, that’s a slow day.

Always pressed for time, this FedEx driver went back to help a woman who was having a rough day.

Amanda Riggan didn’t know that 15 Million people would soon know how she helped that woman.

See more from the show notes below and Subscribe to Knucklehead Podcast

Hungry Heroes got it’s start before Amanda’s video went viral and still feeds first responders and Military nationwide

SHOW Notes

Amanda Riggan:            00:01               I did not know what I was doing when I started as far as like the legalities of it. I didn’t know how a “non-profit” ran. I didn’t know there was like a board and board members and attorneys. I stepped out on faith.

Stephen Colon:            00:26               Welcome to another edition of Knucklehead Podcast you’ve got with you today, the knucklehead Stephen, and and I’m excited to have somebody all the way out in the great country of South Carolina. We got a, we got Ms. Amanda Riggan with us, and I want to jump right in and say, Amanda Riggan of Hungry Heroes. But for those of you who are listening, who recognize the name, you might want to correct me. That’s fine. Just save your savior painting for yourself and put it in the comment section. She has. She had a viral video that went, that went crazy. She’s a, she was a FedEx worker that was delivering a package. And I’m going to, I’m going to butcher the story, but the reason why we’re talking to Amanda is because of the cause that she’s associated with and that is Hunger Heroes. And then in addition to that, cause she’s also a Christian. She’s very open about her face here. She’s open about the way that she believes because the way that she believes influences how she behaves and how she behaves then influences the, the effect that she has out there in the market. And quite frankly that’s a, that’s a difficult thing to do in today’s day and age when everybody wants to divide folks. We’re, we’re interested in just having a discussion and a conversation about the difficult times to gain momentum out there in your business or your nonprofit. So Amanda, we thank you for taking some time. How you doing today?

Amanda Riggan:            01:36               Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Amanda Riggan:            01:38               Yeah, a hundred percent a hundred percent well for those folks who just know you through two and a half minutes on YouTube or maybe a jumped on your Hunger Heroes page and had a chance to, to visit with you back and forth. Cause you like to cook apparently. Is that right? Is that a mischaracterization or is that true?

Amanda Riggan:            01:55               I like to grill.

Stephen Colon:            01:55               Oh, excuse me. See I’m already, already jacking it up. All right. You like to grill? What do you like to grill? What do you like to grill? I mean besides, you know, picnics and shoulders?

Amanda Riggan:            02:07               Steak, chicken, ribs. I’m so tired of barbecue though, I serve it twice a week.

Stephen Colon:            02:15               Yeah, I can understand that. I can understand that. So what’s your go to, do you have like an ice cream that you go to instead of barbecue to just try to even things out?

Amanda Riggan:            02:23               Sometimes I can make pies on the grill. Say so see I can make anything on the grill. Cookies.

Amanda Riggan:            02:27               You can’t make pies. Are you serious?

Amanda Riggan:            02:30               I really can make on the grill. I’ve made blueberry on made pizza. That’s good.

Stephen Colon:            02:38               All right, so I got to back up just a second and we’ll get into the story here. But you know, the dad and me really wants to have her open. The fact that you just said something about cooking pies on the grill. So Wreck it-Ralph is kind of a character that my kids love. And so all of a sudden I started thinking about Wreck-It Ralph and that burnt pie. They were the same. And so I’m thinking that’s gotta be Amanda out here serving, serving all these folks. She’s got burnt pie along with the along with barbecue. Is that right?

Amanda Riggan:            03:03               I haven’t done that yet, don’t speak that.

Stephen Colon:            03:05               Yes ma’am. Yes ma’am. All right. Well Amanda, talk to people a little bit about how you got started and connected with the cause of wanting to give back to your community. Cause I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but for us summary, that’s essentially how you got started with Hunger Heroes, is that right?

Amanda Riggan:            03:21               Right. Well, so a lot of people didn’t know me before the viral video and they think that this or they assume that this is something I started after that. That’s incorrect. I started hungry heroes 2018 we had a detective die in York County. There was an ambush, four officers got shot. He ended up dying. And my brother is a Marine and a former police officer and it just, it ripped my heart out. Seeing our community, grieving. I didn’t know what to do to help. I was actually on my FedEx route the day of his funeral and it was in Charlotte, you know, the whole town just like stopped working for the day, helicopters and video and getting stuff. And I just pulled over and started crying. I got, I’m like, why am I crying? But it was so moving, seeing all of these police cars from Texas, New York, Canada, like rolling out of this church. And I just started crying. And so I was, I was asking the Lord, like, how can I help this community? I’ve always wanted to serve. I had my daughter and I was very young. I lost out on some chances in life, but now I see why a lot of people in the community were putting like blue light bulbs on their house to show support. But I want it to physically do something. And I kept praying about three or four days later, the Lord’s like, “Feed them.” I’m always grilling. I’m a girl ambassadors for a company. And so I called the local police department. I was like, I’m coming to feed your grads this weekend and I don’t think they expect it to be barbecue. Social media. After that, I started posting where we were and what we were doing and it just kind of blew up from there.

Stephen Colon:            04:53               When you say it blew up, let’s back up just a sec one because it insinuates, first of all, that law enforcement is on their phones, right? It insinuates first of all, that there’s folks on social media as opposed to digging into helping the community and that type of thing, which I think sometimes it gets lost in the sauce sometimes that, you know, these are professionals, but there’s, they’re also, there are also family members there. They’re brothers, to your point, they’re sisters, they’re their dads. And I’m talking specifically about law enforcement and they signed up to serve and they signed up to give back to their community and to take care of and provide for their family. So in a way it creates an opportunity for if somebody’s got a problem with the way that they’re conducting themselves over a meal in a way you actually forced a conversation to happen and a human connection, you’ve established a human connection. Whereas sometimes there’s this ominous presence that as law enforcement sometimes just because we’re not familiar with who they are as individuals,

Amanda Riggan:            05:46               Right. And now it’s, it’s like I’m in the brotherhood and I’m not, but I have like a hundred new dads and uncles and sisters. I don’t know. I think the cool thing about a meal is like “hot meal” brings people together. Like sometimes I’ll go in at the PD and do it at shift change. So people are rushing to come on work. People are rushing to leave, but literally like you have eight minutes to stuff your face, Hey, give hugs. Be safe. Like a warm meal is always intimate with your family or wherever you are. So it brings everyone together. I don’t know. That’s the cool part about it. Not, I don’t really get to mingle a lot whenever I do it at shift change, but it means a lot to me to see like they got things like they got fed that night or how to put it into go box and go. Yeah. Yes. So appreciate it.

Stephen Colon:            06:29               Yeah, there’s a, there’s a police officer here locally where I live and he was doing his job and got hurt in the line of duty. He just got hurt, right? Not, not life was over, anything like it just, just a catastrophic effect. Most people want to minimize it cause they get numb to it. And with the 24 hour news cycle, these are, these are, these are folks whose your people with feelings that they’re trained, right. And they’re trained to serve our communities. But it’s difficult to see, to your point about going through that process of when you’re hurt, you can’t go and do your job. It’s a very difficult thing to do. And sometimes they have to put themselves in harm’s way to get the job done. So you’re absolutely right that a warm meal does that. So I gotta I’m going to ask you, this is Knucklehead Podcast, this is not, let’s make everybody feel good about themselves podcast. So, all right, let’s talk about a time when you know maybe you use some expired meat during the grilling process or, or maybe somebody had a, had a violent reaction to something that you are cooking. I’m, I’m kidding, kind of. But let’s talk a little bit about one of these times where you went there with the intention of doing it because this is all coming out of your pocket at this point. There’s not the folks that want to support you. So talk about some of those times where I was difficult to go there and keep a smile on your face and cook at the same time.

Amanda Riggan:            07:34               Well, yeah, they started this, I started this out of my own bank account, which I did. I’m a single mom delivering for FedEx, but, so I started out with one grill and one Boston Butt, luckily the agency I started at was, was small, but I didn’t, I didn’t make anyone sick or anything like that as of yet, praise the Lord. But I was getting burned out like so burned out because I was doing FedEx Monday through Friday. Hungry Heroes every Saturday and Sunday for months. I mean probably six or seven months. And I was getting like, why am I doing this? Like I’m so burnt out. And the Lord was like keep going, keep going, keep going. But that is a “Knucklehead Story”. But I did not know what the hell I was doing when I started. As far as like the legalities of it, I didn’t know how a nonprofit ran. I didn’t know there was like a board and board members and attorneys and so yeah, I stepped out on faith and I haven’t been sued or been to prison yet.

Stephen Colon:            09:54               Isn’t that crazy how when you put yourself out there like that, you put your, your neck out on the line so to speak, for lack of a better term. Now that uncomfortable list never really goes away until you’re on the other side of it. You start to get some, some questions answered and that that fog starts to get cleared a little bit and folks that are now part of your team can actually help to ease your ease, your pain, so to speak, as opposed to give you indigestion.

Amanda Riggan:            10:15               That was rough and like every time I would go talk to the attorney that it’s like they’re just talking Spanish and I’m like, I have no idea what this means. I have. Yeah, it was rough. I just got…

Stephen Colon:            10:25               Amanda, Amanda, they call that South Carolinian language.

Amanda Riggan:            10:29               Ha!!! Whatever…

Stephen Colon:            10:32               I’m just messing with you. I’m just messing with ya. For those folks that are listening, that are in South Carolina, we love you guys. Those of you who are in Texas, you realize those are fighting words right now.

Amanda Riggan:            10:41               You got say go Gamecocks at least once.

Stephen Colon:            10:44               You know what? I used to wear one of those hats back whenever I was in high school because I have always been a knucklehead, if you know what I mean. All right, so Amanda, we got to ask you, first of all, you said something about your brother being a Marine. How many people have connected with you that you’ve kind of struck a vein or you’ve hit a nerve with them where they no longer are just kind of in support of your cause. They’re like, she’s taking care of us so we want to take care of her. I mean, who, who’s reached out to you that’s been supportive of you.

Amanda Riggan:            11:08               As far as like companies and brands or people?

Stephen Colon:            11:11               I mean people, I’m curious because sometimes in today’s world, and the reason why I want to call, call this out is in today’s society, not everybody’s jumping to go support law enforcement, right? There’s this message that’s out there that you know, we need to push against those who are simply just enforcing the laws that we all voted folks in there to go and put these laws in motion. You don’t have to agree with it. However, these are people who support you. You know what I mean?

Amanda Riggan:            11:32               Right. Whether you support them or not. And that’s the sad thing but not my team around Hungry Heroes now, I didn’t know a year ago, Brandy, Sean, Alison, everyone who is like key members of the board and keeps my head on straight and I did not know them. So it’s cool how the networking and assigned meetings that have come in place and company’s Traeger Wood Pellet Grills, Reload Rubs and Spices. They’re like a veteran police pro-police company they send us everything we need. It’s just, yeah. A year ago I never would’ve saw this. Like I’ve literally started this just to give back to my community. That was grieving. And if it never would have grown past York County, cool. But I’ve never saw this coming at all. So going from delivering full time, struggling using my own money to serve others to a full board of members. Flying other places. I don’t know. I saw on the Lords time.

Stephen Colon:            12:27               Well I’m really, I think it’s important. Again, this is not going my podcast. So for those folks who are listening who have seen the effect of a viral video and have that as in terms of an aspiration, they they see social media and quite frankly you see all the filters and social, you don’t see the stories behind the scenes or connect with the fact that she just talked about being a single mom using money that she had in her bank account to get this cause started, not, she wanted to be able to have a viral video to go get this cause going. It’s interesting in today’s world how people can not connect with the struggle associated with actually going and getting a cause up off the ground. Similarly to what you’re talking about. I mean, you, you said it yourself, you were going through kind of burnout with, no pun intended with be in the grills, but you know, you were going through burnout and it was difficult to deal with this. So where, where is this going now? I mean, we’ve got you talking about York County, South Carolina, but where is this now? Where has it grown to and where is it going?

Amanda Riggan:            13:19               So we’ve been in Missouri, Indiana and we had a dirt track race. We had a we had a dirt track car wrapped in under your hands, flew down to Austin, Lakeway (Texas). We now have dates. I’m coming back to Texas soon. So now we’ve put together like a brand new website. We have new apparel and that stuff is legit too, we have new apparel coming out, which always 100% goes back into the mission. But, so yeah, we’re nationwide. We’ve gotten contacts and flights covered and it’s cool, like just on social media, letting people know like, what we need to do to get where they are. Usually my housing is covered and my food’s covered. Flights are covered. I just that, that’s so awesome. I wouldn’t be able to continue doing this without feedback and stuff like that.

Stephen Colon:            14:01               Well it’s interesting because you, you just talked about some of the legal, you know, some of the things that you didn’t know right, whenever you got started, it’s termed a “Knucklehead moment” for that reason, right? Because it’s, you just don’t know what you don’t know until you need to know it. And then you surround yourself with folks who have different answers than, than what you do. And you try to continue to put your best foot forward trying to make the best decisions possible. And what you’ve done as you’ve also connected with an emotional, it was something emotional. And then when I say “emotional” folks that see you, they get activated because they believe in that cause that right. And there’s folks that you just want to feed those that are serving you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I think that that, the simplicity in that is, is very pure. That’s something that I can get behind. So something we haven’t talked about a whole lot is, is this viral video. I just want to touch on this and then we can wrap with some information that you can give to folks. What’s changed about how you interact with people on social? Cause you went from probably just a few, a few likes on a post to now you’ve got millions of people who are familiar with you hugging somebody who’s going through a really rough time.

Amanda Riggan:            15:03               I’ve always strived to live that way though. Not even because it on video, but in general. I’ll give you a little bit of background? Real quick. Okay. So I wasn’t raised in church. A lot of people who see that videos, like I’m some like Bible Thumper. I’m not, I wasn’t raised in church about four years ago. I started going because I was going through a rough time and I went by myself, which is super intimidating. I don’t even know how to say half the words in the Bible. Right? I got saved one of my first missions trip to Ecuador and gave my first testimony. I mean, I was just scared. I wouldn’t even talk in front of people. But anyway, I’ll, I wasn’t confident enough to even pray out loud. So long story short, three years on the road, I’m still trying to live that way. Um I don’t go to church every Sunday, I cuss, you know what I mean? I drink a little bit of beer, but at the end of the day I’m human and I feel like what’s important is the relationship between me and the Lord and not the relationship between me and Facebook or Instagram or people’s opinions. So the day that I turned around and hugged that lady is nothing, nothing different of what I always do. I just, I posted it because I used to have a YouTube channel where I would post my walk with Christ. So every day it was called “Mirror Time” and I was looking in the mirror at myself and anyway, they got pretty big. And so I hadn’t posted a video on a couple of years and that day I was so moved by what had happened. I had to post that and I had no idea how it was going to grow. But the one cool thing that ties us together for people listening back in September of last year, I had an had an opportunity with a company who wanted to kind of use Hungry Heroes and my face, which is a big deal to someone who’s always been struggling financially and single mom and I kind of turned it down and I was like, Lord, I don’t like, this is mine. Like I created this. So anyway, the Lord’s like, next year’s your year, next years you’re year, January 3rd and 2019 I’ve prayed for that lady and there was my year. That’s the audience I needed, the eyes to see everything. So yeah, Hungry Heroes was was well before the viral video.

Stephen Colon:            17:14               Well, it’s important to understand that there’s, there’s not a difference between the cause you being obedient, right? You’re being obedient to the way that you are led and those that, those, I mean honestly if you think about it from a police officer’s perspective, how many people do they have coming up and trying to feed them? They’re probably not inundated with a bunch of requests for people to get back to them. It may happen. Right. And there’s, there’s probably some well-publicized incidents where I’m incorrect and folks wanting to give back. But the whole, essentially the, the reason why I’m calling that out, as you just were trying to get better every day and, and the process of you wanting to get better every day, you want to be the best you can for your daughter. How old is your daughter, by the way?

Amanda Riggan:            17:52               You’re not going to believe me.

Stephen Colon:            17:54               Oh really?

Amanda Riggan:            17:55               She’s 14 on Monday.

Stephen Colon:            17:57               Oh my goodness gracious. Okay, well happy birthday!

Amanda Riggan:            17:59               The Lord Blessed me with some good genes.

Stephen Colon:            18:02               That’s awesome. That’s awesome. That’s what I tell my wife all the time. I’m like, you, you, you know, you, you know how fortunate you are. My goodness gracious. And she rolls her eyes and walks the other way, so that’s fun. But we’ve been married now. That’s cool. We’ll be married. This’ll be 13 years in November. I’m excited. We’ve got to look to boys five and eight. It’s crazy. Hearing the experiences going from in your walk everyday trying to get better to now. Everybody else has the ability to kind of take a peak at that posted incident and have an opinion about it, which is fine. As an American you get 1st amendment, You can share your opinion. That’s fine. It doesn’t necessarily change or influence what you’re doing unless they want to support you. Right.

Amanda Riggan:            18:43               It’s about 95% positive.

Stephen Colon:            18:45               Good. Well, even if it wasn’t that. The whole point is, is before you had an audience, to your point, you were doing what you were doing cause you felt like that was what you were called to do.

Amanda Riggan:            18:53               Slaving away. A cool story, real quick, about my daughter. So when I first started Hungry Heroes, I was still at FedEx Monday through Friday, right? Modern day Santa. So we had an event in Columbia, South Carolina, which is one of the biggest ones that we had done as far it was for the Army National Guard down there. I forget how many as a hundred and something soldiers, but I made the barbecue the day before my mom, my daughter, take it down. It’s like an hour away from where we live, they took it down there to feed them that day. And then so my mom face times me and so after all the soldiers and stuff make their plates and sit down, she stands up in front of all of them with a like a jar and she’s talking and she’s giving my whole story to them why I couldn’t be there and why she’s standing up in my place. They stood up and gave her like a standing ovation and I just literally pulled out of her and cried, you know what I mean? And I was like, I’m going to give you the tip jar every time we go somewhere. But it’s, what I’m trying to say is it’s brought my entire family together. Like I said, I wasn’t raised in church. I now hear my dad pray, my whole team of us growing, it’s all my family, my mom, dad, my brother, which he would have never really seen us do that years ago. I mean we would never really get together like that. So it’s, it’s brought everyone together and it’s when the Bible says, when you are Blessed, your family is Blessed. That’s true. So.

Stephen Colon:            20:14               Know you’re living testimony for that. That’s what’s important as now you’re going forward, your daughter’s going to be able to communicate that story to somebody who challenges her ran. It’s a physical, real life example that she’s had the ability to go through an those close to her, have been able to witness that same thing. So it affects more. And what’s cool about that is it affects more than just you and and your current generation. That’s what I love about stories like this. All right. This is where you’re going to want to be very specific. How can people go and find you and how can people go and support your cause and tell people where you’re going to be at? They want to come out and say, Hey,

Amanda Riggan:            20:47               Awesome. Yes, so we have an email, It’s hungryheroesbbq@gmail.com I’m also active all the time on Facebook and social media. I have a personal, public page and Amanda Riggan. We have a Hungry Heros page Instagram and Facebook, all donations, 100% goes right back into the mission. All sales of apparel. Stuff like that goes right back into the mission. So we couldn’t do this without, as we live on that. So, well I don’t live on that. You get what I’m saying?

Stephen Colon:            21:15               The organization lives on that. I understand what you mean. There are, there are folks like myself who spent some time in the Corps who like to eat crayons. So we have to spell this out for folks. Hungry is spelled H, U N, G, R Y and then Heroes, H. E. R. O. E. S. Alright. So for those of you who are out there, who are listening, who are driving, write that down. Go visit a little bit later. Amanda told you how to help. I can get in touch with her on Instagram, on Facebook, support the cause. Where are you going to be at next? Where’s the next event for Hungry Heroes?

Amanda Riggan:            21:52               October 26 so it’ll be here where I live in Rock Hill, SC a local brewery. SlowPlay and the proceeds from them yourselves going back to LIS. And we’re actually selling BBQ plates. Most people come out for the apparel guy, so it’s super popular. Can you turn your head around for those? For those who are watching on YouTube, check out this guy. So, but if you’re listening and you look on our website today, it’ll be completely different tomorrow. The new website launches tomorrow, all the new hoodies and shirts and stuff like that, so it’ll look better.

Stephen Colon:            22:25               Very cool. Well, what would a difference a year and a team makes, right?

Amanda Riggan:            22:29               Right.

Stephen Colon:            22:29               Peopel can get behind your cause, and help put some wind beneath your sails and we appreciate you taking some time. Anything else that you want to leave these folks with before we wrap?

Amanda Riggan:            22:37               Thanks for the support and a always made your face. That’d be watched them on video, you know, that’s what I say. And that’s kind of like what I’m known by now. Everybody’s like, I’ll move my feet. So anytime you feel the need to do something, yeah, move ahead. You have nothing to lose.

Stephen Colon:            22:50               Yeah, a hundred percent a hundred percent well, there you go. We appreciate you taking some time. Amanda Riggan Hungry Heroes, https://www.hungryheroesbbq.com She just told you how to get in touch with her supportive cause, incredible cause. You see those cherries pop on behind you, Be thankful that somebody like Amanda just fed that belly, so you can talk with you a little bit about maybe giving you a warning as opposed to a ticket. So we’re going to throw that out there and if you like listening to Knucklehead Podcast. We got new episodes coming at you every Tuesday. And remember, we encourage you, don’t be beta about the process, right? Don’t necessarily be a follower unless you’re ignoring warranted at this point. You gotta be willing to go out there and get your nose bloodied and your knee scraped. Similar to what Amanda was talking about here today, everything was going differently than what she originally anticipated. All these legalities and walls started crashing in. But you know what? She started figuring out and started going out there and get some wins. That’s our philosophy. Go ahead and get you some wins. Don’t be amazed about the process and go and make it happen. So you can listen to us on that, on Podbean on Apple podcasts, Google play, Stitcher, Spotify. Tune in. If you want to tell Alexa, you know what? Tell Alexa, I want to listen to Knucklehead Podcasts, and guess what? You get to hear this silky smooth voice, Stephen and Amanda coming at you. So we appreciate you guys and we appreciate you, Amanda.

Amanda Riggan:            24:00               Thank you.

Stephen Colon:            24:00               Yeah, have a good rest of the week, ya’ll. See you.

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