DALLAS — As the snowflakes fell in Texas, Brad Thomas sat inside his Dallas home pondering what he could do to make a difference.
The former marketing guru for SMU Football from 1978-1983 has always been a keen observer of the human condition.
Now a sports marketing consultant, Thomas is getting some outside research and development.
On Saturday night, the 66-year-old threw on some warm clothes, grabbed a couple of blankets and laid down in his chaise lounge on the back patio.
It was 15 degrees outside.
Thomas slept out there in the historically freezing cold from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
"I wanted to feel what they feel," Thomas said. "It's not some spectacular achievement."
Thomas doesn't want a medal. He didn't do it for publicity or charity.
He slept outside to educate himself on what homeless people feel every night during this vicious Texas winter storm.
"When you actually feel it you feel for them in a different way," said Thomas.
Thomas admitted those seven hours provided more perspective on what homeless experience than anything he had ever experienced before.
"C.S. Lewis was quoted one time saying, 'We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed.' And I believe that," Thomas continued. "We need to be reminded on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Whatever it might be. People in need. Places we can help."
That's what this story is: a reminder.
A reminder to think differently. To act differently.
"There are no quick fixes," Thomas said. "There are no black and white answers."
There is no easy solution to the homelessness that plagues Texas, the south and the country as a whole.
Unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing, substance abuse and mental health are the most common root causes of homelessness.
Creating and supporting organizations that provide tangible relief to those causes can reduce the homeless population and plight of those who have lost their way.
As the country layers up to brave the winter cold, we should strive to remove those emotional and mental layers of de-sensitivity.
We don't have to play judge or jury on someone based on a cardboard sign.
Homeless people are like snowflakes. They may appear similar but no two are alike. They are unique and complicated souls. And we don't always know where their stories begin.
As the snowflakes continue to fall in Texas, we can all lift a hand to pick them back up.