On October 8, 1989, lifelong Indiana resident Richard Propes sat in downtown Indianapolis in his wheelchair and set out on a seemingly impossible mission. A paraplegic/double amputee with spina bifida, Propes had a mission of traveling for 41 days and over 1,000 miles on an event he was calling "The Tenderness Tour," a one-man mission to find goodness in the world.
There wasn't a soul in Richard's life who thought his mission would succeed, but 41 days later he wheeled back into Indianapolis having discovered hope, healing, and a life mission to break the cycle of abuse and violence by wheeling 2-3 miles per hour.
Having survived long past his life expectancy, Richard has announced this year's Tenderness Tour to be his final long-distance road trip after having traveled over 6,000 miles in his wheelchair and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children's organizations worldwide.
The week-long 30th Anniversary Tenderness Tour started off on the evening of October 1st, also Richard's birthday, as he attended the Domestic Violence Network's annual Domestic Violence Memorial Vigil at Meridian Street United Methodist Church in Indianapolis at 5:30pm.
At 9am on October 2nd, Richard gathered at downtown Indy's Monument Circle where he began wheeling one lap around the 1/3 mile Monument Circle for each child who has died as a result of violence in Indiana since the Tenderness Tour began on 10/8/1989.
After 30 years of passionate activism for children worldwide, Propes has won numerous honors and just this month was voted as runner-up in the category of "Best Human" in the Indy Star's "Best Things in 2019" Reader's Poll. Richard has also been named a Sagamore of the Wabash, one of Indiana's highest service honors, and a Kentucky Colonel, the State of Kentucky's highest service honor. Additionally, Richard received Prevent Child Abuse America's Highest Honor, the Donna J. Stone Award, and recently was honored as a Champion of Diversity by Indiana Minority Business Magazine. In 2018, Indy's own Academy Award-qualifying film festival Heartland International Film Festival established the Richard D. Propes Social Impact Award honoring both a narrative feature and a documentary feature best exemplifying social impact filmmaking.
Richard is a well known activist in the Indianapolis area and was the founder of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence's Race Away From Domestic Violence, an annual 5k now in its 16th year that has raised over a a half million dollars for domestic violence prevention and support programs.
Richard is the author of the award-winning "The Hallelujah Life" and the soon to be released "Touch Can be a Loving Experience." In 2018, he produced the powerful short film "Edmund Evans is a Rapist," directed by April O'Donnell, and in 2019 produced the comedy DVD "Straight Outta Cowan" featuring Indy comics Rick Garrett and Jeremy Brown. Richard is the founder/publisher of TheIndependentCritic.com, one of the top ten film review sites on the web, and was a charter member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association.
Richard is an ordained minister and 13-year employee of the State of Indiana who graduated from Martin University and Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond.
Are you curious about the organizations The Tenderness Tour has supported over the years? Check them out here.