Running for My Life is not a story about Africa or track and field athletics. It is about outrunning the devil and achieving the impossible faith, diligence, and the desire to give back. It is the American dream come true and a stark reminder that saving one can help to save thousands more.
Lopez Lomong chronicles his inspiring ascent from a barefoot lost boy of the Sudanese Civil War to a Nike sponsored athlete on the US Olympic Team. Though most of us fall somewhere between the catastrophic lows and dizzying highs of Lomong's incredible life, every reader will find in his story the human spark to pursue dreams that might seem unthinkable, even from circumstances that might appear hopeless.
"Lopez Lomong's story is one of true inspiration. His life is a story of courage, hard work, never giving up, and having hope where there is hopelessness all around. Lopez is a true role model." ?MICHAEL JOHNSON, Olympic Gold Medalist
"This true story of a Sudanese child refugee who became an Olympic star is powerful proof that God gives hope to the hopeless and shines a light in the darkest places. Don't be surprised if after reading this incredible tale, you find yourself mysteriously drawn to run alongside him." ?RICHARD STEARNS, president, World Vision US and author of THe Hole in Our Gospel
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Lopez Lomong was born in Kimotong, a small village in southern Sudan, in 1985. Taken by rebel soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army at age 6, Lomong embarked on the long journey from refugee camps to the world’s largest athletic stage—the Olympics. Founder of the Lopez Lomong Foundation, Lomong spends each day working to improve the lives of children in his homeland.
Mark Tabb has authored or coauthored more than thirty books, including the number one New York Times bestseller, Mistaken Identity.
Read an Excerpt
RUNNING FOR MY LIFEOne Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games
By LOPEZ LOMONG MARK TABB
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Joseph L. Lomong a/k/a Lopez Lomong
All right reserved.
My eyes were closed in prayer when the trucks pulled up. I heard them before I saw them. When I looked up, I saw soldiers pouring out of the back of the trucks. They appeared nervous, as though they wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible. "everybody down! Now!" they shouted as they ran into the middle of the congregation. I knew our country was at war. About once a month my mother and father grabbed me and my brothers and sister and ran for shelter as bombs fell in the distance from airplanes that flew far overhead. But I had never seen a soldier until this bright, summer Sunday, and I had never expected to see soldiers invade an outdoor church service.
The soldiers continued running and shouting. Our priest tried to reason with them. "Please do not do this now," he said.
The leader of the soldiers ignored him. "We're taking the children!" he screamed.
I did not know what he meant by that. I would soon.
My parents dropped to the ground, pulling me down with them. I huddled close to my mother's side. She wrapped her arm so tightly around me that my ribs hurt. All around me people screamed and cried. I started crying too. My mother tried to calm me, but she was as frightened as I was.
Suddenly I felt a hand on my back. I looked up and saw a giant man standing over me. When you are a little boy, every adult looks like a giant. His gun was slung behind his back. A chain of bullets hung across his chest. My mother pleaded with him. "No, no, no! Don't take my boy!" The soldier did not reply. With one hand he yanked my mother's arm off me while picking me up with the other. He dragged me past the giant tree at the front of our church and toward the trucks. "Hurry up. Let's go!" he yelled. All around me, other soldiers herded boys and girls and teenagers toward the trucks, all the while yelling for everyone to speed up.
I turned around. My mother and father were off the ground, chasing after me. Tears ran down their faces. They were not alone. All across our church parents chased their children, weeping and wailing. "Please do not take our children," they begged. "Please, please, we will do anything you ask—just do not do this."
One especially giant soldier swung back around toward our crying parents. He waved his gun in the air and screamed, "One more step and we will open fire!" I could not see what happened next. I felt myself being picked up and thrown into the back of one of the trucks. I bounced off another boy and landed on the hot, dirty, metal truck bed. The truck was full of children from my church. A green canopy covered the top and sides of the truck bed, so I could not see out. Suddenly, the tailgate slammed shut and the truck lurched forward.
I did not know it at the time, but my childhood had just ended.
I was six years old.
* * *
The truck bounced down the road for three or four hours, but no one said anything to anyone else. I was too scared to start up a conversation. I guess everyone else was too. At first we all cried, but eventually that stopped. instead we rode along in silence, everyone wondering what was going to happen to us.
The metal truck bed burned my bare feet. I tried standing on the tops of someone else's feet to cool mine off, but he pushed me away. it was so hot inside that truck. The soldiers had tied the canopy down tight on every side to keep us from jumping out. unfortunately, he tied it so tight that no fresh air could squeeze through. The summer sun beat down on top of the truck, making it hotter and hotter in there. The light coming through the canopy gave everyone a green tint. Road dust seeped in through holes in the bed, which made it even harder to breathe.
Sweat poured down my face and stung my eyes. My clothes were soaked. The dirt in the bed of the truck turned to mud from all the sweat pouring off so many children crammed into that small space.
This was my first trip in a truck or any kind of car. in my village, everyone walked wherever we needed to go. everyone but me. I did not walk. I ran. My parents named me Lopepe, which in our language means "fast." As a little boy, I lived up to my name. I never did anything slow. When my mother sent me to get water, I raced down to the river with my five-liter tin can and ran back as fast as I could. When she needed salt, I ran to the neighbors' to borrow some and raced back so fast that it was almost as though she had the salt right there in our hut. even though I ran everywhere, I always imagined traveling in a car or truck would be even better. But sitting in the stifling heat in the back of the army truck, I dreamed of running back to my village and into my mother's arms.
Bouncing along in the truck, I noticed a couple of kids lying down. I don't know if they fell asleep or just passed out. either way, I knew I didn't want to lie down on the hot, dirty truck bed. it was not just the heat. I didn't want to spoil my Sunday best shorts and shirt my mother had put on me before we left our hut for church. I still did not fully grasp the fact that my life—the life of racing my dad to our farm and playing with my brothers and sister and going to church under the trees every Sunday—was over.
* * *
Eventually the truck's brakes squeaked loudly and we came to a stop. I did not know where we were. The back canopy flew open. finally, a breath of fresh air. Four or five soldiers jumped in. One grabbed a boy, threw something around his head, and then dropped him down out of the truck. Before my mind could process what happened to the boy, a pair of hands grabbed me. Everything went dark as the hands wrapped a blindfold tightly around my head. It was so tight I could feel my pulse throbbing in my temples.
All at once, the hands lifted me up and tossed me through the air. Another pair of hands caught me before I hit the ground. These hands then pulled up my right hand and shoved it against a shirt in front of me. I then felt a small hand on my back, which I knew had to be the hand of another boy. "Hold on to the kid in front of you and do not drop out of line!" someone shouted.
The line started to move. I did my best to hold onto the person in front of me. from behind I heard a soldier yell, "keep up," which was followed by a loud thwack and a yelp. Although I did not see it, I assume someone was smacked with the butt of a rifle for falling out of line. I tightened my grip on the shoulder in front of me and jogged to keep up. I did not want to be the next one to get hit.
Marching along I felt like one of my father's cows. When my father brought the cows in from grazing in the fields, I used to run alongside with a stick and help herd them into the pen. We had around two hundred cows, which made us very wealthy in our village. I didn't realize that we were actually quite poor. People with money in South Sudan sent their children to school in Kenya, far away from the civil war that started decades before I was born. Wealthy people did not have to worry about their children being kidnapped en masse and taken to God-knows-where. War is always far worse on the poor than the rich. Always.
I marched along blindfolded for what felt like a very long time. in truth we probably walked around fifty meters. Distances always seem longer when you cannot see where you are going. The line stopped and then moved forward much more slowly. The shirt in front of me pulled away from my hand and was gone. I reached out, feeling for it so that I could stay in line. I did not want to be beaten. Suddenly, a hand yanked the blindfold off my eyes while another hand shoved me in the back.
I stumbled forward and blinked hard. I expected the sunlight to hurt my eyes, but it didn't. Looking around, I found myself inside a thatch-roofed, one-room hut crammed full of children and teenagers. The room was dark considering it was still afternoon. There were no windows and only one door. Some light came through the thatch overhead.
I moved quickly away from the door. The soldiers there kept shoving more and more children into the one-room hut, which was already quite full. The room was smaller than my living room today, yet there had to be nearly eighty of us crammed inside. As I looked around I noticed something else: all the girls were gone. When the soldiers invaded our church, they took all the boys and girls. now the girls were nowhere to be seen. I did not want to think about what might have happened to them.
All the boys in the hut wore the same dazed expression. no one looked familiar, even though most of those inside the room went to my church. Our church met in between several villages and served families from a wide area. Perhaps if I'd been older, I might have recognized someone, but when you are six, your life revolves primarily around your own family and those who live closest to you. At least it did for me.
Standing alone inside the crowded hut, all I could think about was my family. I wanted my mother and father to burst through the door and save me. I wanted to play with my two brothers, Abraham and John, and my sister, Grace. For some reason, on this particular Sunday, my brothers did not leave for church with me and my mom and dad. Abraham is two years older than me, while John and Grace are both younger. Abraham was going to bring John and Grace to a later service. I don't know why he decided to do that or why my parents let him. At this moment, I was glad they did. As much as I missed them and longed to see them, I was glad no one else in my family had been kidnapped by these soldiers. They might have left John and Grace because they were so young, but Abraham would be right here with me in this prison camp.
* * *
I tried to push those thoughts from my mind and concentrate on what was happening around me. The instinct to survive had already started to kick in. I did not feel hungry or thirsty even though I'd had nothing to eat or drink since I left home for church with my parents. Maybe I was in shock. I do not know. Food and water were the last things on my mind. Apparently they were the last things on the soldiers' minds as well, because they did not offer us any.
Now that my blindfold was off, I studied the soldiers at the door. When they had invaded my church, they all seemed like giants. not anymore. Several of them appeared to be around the same age as the oldest kidnapped boys. Their uniforms were tattered and worn-out, hardly uniforms at all. Most of the soldiers were barefoot.
"They're rebel soldiers," someone behind me said. I turned, thinking he was talking to me.
"How do you know?" someone else replied.
"Look at them. You can tell by their clothes," the first boy said. I now saw this first boy was not a boy at all. He was probably one of the older ones in the room. He may have been fourteen or fifteen.
"Then why did they take us? I thought the rebels were fighting for us," the second boy replied.
"They are," the first boy said.
"That doesn't make any sense," the second boy said. "If they are the good guys, why would they kidnap all of us boys?" That's what I wanted to know too.
"Don't you see?" said the first boy. "They didn't kidnap us. We've been recruited by force to become soldiers."
That explanation seemed to make perfect sense to these two boys, but it didn't to me. I could not lift a gun, much less shoot one. How could I become a soldier? none of this made any sense to me.
"Lopepe," someone said.
I looked up.
"you're Lopepe, aren't you? from Kimotong, right?"
I was almost too afraid to answer. The boy asking the questions appeared to be around thirteen or fourteen. Two others stood next to him.
"When I saw them shove you through the door, I thought that was you," the boy said. He introduced himself and his two friends to me. They may have told me their names, but I don't remember. Every other detail of that day is burned into my mind. I can see it like it was yesterday, but I cannot remember the names of these three boys.
"We're from Kimotong too. We know your family. You have an older brother named Abraham, right?"
"Yes," I said, still wondering who these boys were and what they wanted from me.
"Is he here too?"
"No. He and my other brother and sister were coming to a later church service. I was the only one taken."
"Don't worry," said the boy. "You stick close to us and you will be all right."
"Really?" I asked. "Why would you want to look out for me?"
"We're from the same village, which makes us family."
I smiled for the first time that day. "Okay," I said. "Thank you."
For the first time since my nightmare began, I felt like I was not alone. God had sent three angels to watch over me. Soon they would do much, much more.
Chapter TwoMy Stolen Life
I hardly slept that first night in the rebel prison camp. So many boys packed the hut that I barely had room to lie down. Nor did I have a mat on which to sleep like I did at home. Instead I and all the other boys lay down on the cold, hard ground wherever we could find an open space. And it was cold by African standards. Summer days in South Sudan are hot, but the nights are very cool. I blew into my hands to try to warm them up. When that didn't work, I put them in my armpits. At home I had a small blanket to cover up with. Not here.
I could not get warm. no one could. All around me boys shivered in the cold. Instinctively, I scooted over to a boy near me and put my arms around him. He hugged me back. Before long, everyone near me was pressed against everyone else. That wasn't hard to do since we were packed into that small space like sardines. In America, boys won't get that close to another boy, no matter how tight the space. No one in that hut had a problem with snuggling against another boy and hugging him through the night. It was the only way to keep warm.
* * *
As soon as it got dark, boys began crying for their families. Everyone cried at some point in the night. The conversations started around the same time. No one dared talk loudly. Instead we whispered as softly as we could. The same conversation took place all around the room. "Why do you think they took us? What's going to happen to us now? Will they ever let us go back home? Do you think we will ever see our families again?" The whispers grew louder and louder the longer we talked. When we got too loud, a guard stuck his head inside the door and screamed, "Shut up in there!" The room fell silent for a few minutes. The only sounds were the youngest boys sobbing in the dark. Before long the whispered conversations started again. The whispers grew louder and louder until the guard screamed at us again. This went on all night.
My stomach hurt from hunger. I did not feel like eating, but my stomach told me it wanted food. I also needed to go to the restroom, but I was too afraid to ask the guards at the door where the restrooms were located. We all were that first night. My nose told me some of the boys went ahead and took care of their business anyway right there inside the hut. I didn't need to go that badly.
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. The way I saw it, if I were asleep, I would not think about being hungry or needing to go to the restroom. When I closed my eyes, my mind floated back to my family. I saw our mud hut with its thatched roof. The fireplace on which my mom cooked during the rainy season and which we used to keep warm on cold nights was in the center of the hut. My parents slept on one side of the fire, and my brothers and sister and I slept on the other. A storage room sat off to one side, with another storage area built up high. We kept all our food up there. Sometimes when it rained, the water seeped in from outside and made the floor wet. That's why we kept the food in a high place—plus, it made it harder for little boys to sneak a snack. I loved my home. I always felt safe there. Even at night I never felt afraid. I used to drift off to sleep listening to our cows rustling around outside.
I awoke to the sound of the cows talking among themselves. They sounded angry. How can cows talk? I wondered as I opened my eyes. Only then did I remember how far away I was from my mat and my fireplace and my cows and my family.
* * *
The door opened on the far side of the hut. "Eat," a soldier called out. He shoved a large plastic bucket into the hut and slammed the door. All the boys rushed over to the bucket and dug in. Everyone was pushing and shoving so much that I didn't know if I would be able to get close enough to it to find out what was inside. My three teenage friends, my three angels, found me. "Follow us, Lopepe," one said. He pushed his way through the crowd. I held onto him and followed behind.
Excerpted from RUNNING FOR MY LIFE by LOPEZ LOMONG MARK TABB Copyright © 2012 by Joseph L. Lomong a/k/a Lopez Lomong. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Taken! 1
2 My Stolen Life 9
3 Escaping with the Angels 19
4 Running Home 25
5 Kakuma 33
6 From Lopepe to Joseph 43
7 A New Dream 51
8 Writing for My Life 59
9 No Good-Byes 69
10 "Welcome Home, Joseph" 79
11 The Promised Land 87
12 A Child Again 95
13 Two Dreams, One Goal 105
14 9-11 113
15 They're Alive? 121
16 "This Place Will Take You to the Olympics" 131
17 Running for Joy 139
18 Family Reunion 149
19 Back from the Grave 157
20 Running Down My Dream 167
21 Within Sight 179
22 "Thank You. America!" 187
23 The Highest Honor 195
24 Passing the Dream to My Brothers 207
25 The Greatest Moment! 215
Epilogue: Still Running for My Life 223
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Best release of 2012. Every American should read this autobiography of Lopez Lomong, a Lost Boy of Sudan who dreamed of becoming an Olympic runner for the United States. Part of a large group of children rounded up and kidnapped from an outdoor church service by Sudanese rebel solders, six year old Lopepe (born in 1985) was taken under the wings of three bigger boys who had known his older brother. Together they escaped from the horrifying rebel encampment, running in the wrong direction for home. Eventually they crossed the border into Kenya, where they were put in a refugee camp. The bigger boys, whom Lopez calls his "angels" vanished, never to be seen by him again. In the refugee camp food was limited and there were no school supplies. Lopez learned the rudiments of education, with teachers offering lectures and children writing answers in the dirt, using sticks as writing implements. Work, running, and soccer playing helped fill the long hours. In the year 2000, several of the boys snuck out of the camp, paying a local farmer to watch the Olympics on a television powered by a car battery. Seeing Michael Johnson, the defending Olympic champion and world record holder in the 400-meter dash, Lopez developed a dream for his own future. He, too, would some day run in the Olympics for the United States. Lomong believes it was God who led him to learn about the Olympics, and also helped him win an essay contest. The contest allowed him to be sent to America where he lived with a supportive American family, received his citizenship, earned both his high school and Bachelor's Degrees, and ran in the Beijing Olympics for the United States. His youthful impressions of 9/11 and of Americans coming together as a people are very powerful, very moving, and extremely important. "Running for My Life" is a very true story of a young man whose hard work and faith in God has allowed him to achieve his personal dreams. We pray that his even bigger dreams of bringing pure drinking water, public education and medical services to Sudan also come true. A must read. Excellent book. A superb person. Kim Burdick Stanton, Delaware
Running For My Life is a most amazing thrilling story of God watching over a "LOST BOY" from Sudan. It is well-told,a compelling easy read and hard to put down. The Publication date in 2011 makes it very relevant reading for the 2012 Olympics as Lopez Lomong represents yhe USA in the 1500 meter race. The book makes us aware of the plight of the many lost children of the world. Lopez Lomong is to be highly commended for his burning desire and efforts through his foundation to aid in the welfare in the country of his birth.
This story is the essence of the American Dream but very different than those we have heard in the past! Lomong is a strong and resilient character but his voice is honest in telling his story. The pain and weaknesses felt during his struggle are palpable throughout the book.... This is a tale that will inspire as I take on new challenges and set off to overcome limits. Once I started it was impossible to put down! I found myself laughing and crying throughout the story. The struggles of this child illuminate reflections on the importance of family, identity, and purpose. I was so proud to be an American and realized the amount of potential each individual has to touch and change so many lives. Enjoy this incredible summer read and let's cheer Lomong on as he represents USA in the London 2012 Olympics! This is just the beginning!!
bought this from amazon, love the story!
Uplifting, amazing story from a truly nice person. Most people I know have gone back and read it twice - it is that good.
I happened upon this book while browsing my local book store. At check out, it was suggested to me based on my interest in another book that was currently out of stock. I knew nothing of the gentleman nor his story. Fantastic book! The man has so much hope on every page. From his kidnapping to his escape and then his refugee camp experiences. I couldn't put it down.
Very moving. Brought me to tears many times. It just brought home to me how much I take for granted living in the the USA.
Lopez Lomong writes from the heart. This was a gripping novel with purpose and humility. I hope it raises a great amount for the Sudan cause.
Running for My Life, a true story, reads like a novel and will inspire readers that God can bring great changes to lives that seem to have no future. Lopez Lomong, a U.S. Olympic athlete, ran everywhere for pleasure as a young boy in Sudan. One Sunday, when Lopez was six years old, children in a church service were kidnapped by soldiers and held prisoners in a tiny house far from their home. There the children either died of malnutrition and disease or were trained to be soldiers. One dark night, three older boys helped Lopez escape. They ran for three nights, sleeping during the day. Lopez thought they were heading back to his village but discovered they’d reached Kenya and a refugee camp. He spent the next ten years there, although the three older boys disappeared. Even trying for years, he’s never located them again. Knowing the hand of God has always been on his life, he wonders if the boys were angels. When Lopez was sixteen, Catholic Charities helped an American family adopt him. He learned to trust them and to slowly understand American culture. In 2008 he ran in the Olympics for the US and met President and Mrs. Bush. His proudest moment arrived three years later, when he graduated from college. Now he works to help people in Africa through the Lopez Lomong Foundation, creating schools, bringing better agricultural methods and health improvements and meeting other dire needs.
I think we forget how good we really have it here in the USA. I would have never thought at the age of 6 to be taken from my family, to have to learn how to survive and to have to run for my life. I his autobiography Running for my Life Lopez Lomong tell the story of his life growing up in South Sudan. At the little age of six years old Lopez was taken from his family while they attend a church service. He was ripped from the loving arms of his mother by men that wanted to train young kids to fight in the Civil war that was going on in his country. Lopez made a decision one night that put him on the path to the live that he now leads. When you read this book you will not be able to put it down. Lopez survived because of his belief in God. God help him just like He helps us all. God has a plan for us and Lopez understood this and knew that if he would put his trust in God even when is was in the depths of hell he know that God would extended his loving hand and pull him out. That is just want God did for Lopez. If you know about Lopez you know that he went on to Olympics and not only that had the great honor to carry the country flag in the open ceremonies. What an honor for a boy that once was last and now if found. This review is my alone; I was given a free copy by the Thomas Nelson group in exchange for this honest review.
Absolutely, positively AMAZING!!! As some parts may be sad, this book shows great faith! I may not be the guy who gets all 'Oh, that person i my role model!' but Lopez Lomong is now mine.
I read the sample and i cant wait to read the rest
Wonderful story. This story shows that with hard work dedication and faith in God you can accomplish anything in life.
Running For My Life is the story of US Olympic athlete Lopez Lomong. This inspiring book chronicles his story from a kidnapped lost boy from the killing fields of the Sudan, and follows his barefoot escape to the refugee camps of Kenya. The story doesn't end there. After 10 years in a refugee camp, Lopez is taken in by a foster family in the US. The book follows his struggles with adapting to life in the US from high school to university. Lopez earns a degree and a spot on the 2008 US Olympic team. Lopez is still running. I was not familiar with Lopez Lomong's story before reading this book. Now, I can't stop thinking about it. Encountering hardship that would kill stronger men, God leads Lopez on a path that brings Glory to His Name! I was challenged by this book. I found myself wondering how I would have handled these situations. Lopez does not rest on his laurels and today he has partnered with World Vision to bring hope and help to the people of Sudan. This is a book I highly recommend. You will find yourself drawn in to the Lopez Lomong story and your eyes will be open to a life outside of the comforts of home!
I just loved this book it was very inspiting for me. A must read for those who are down in the dumps or very discouaged
Inspirational story of perseverance and hope.
This book is increadible I only live 20 min away from tully(where he went to high school) lopez is very nice and has an amazig story
This had me in a constant state of shock, smiles and heartfelt tears!!! Absolutely a must read!
Very inspiring story, HIGHLY RECOMENDED!
"Running for My Life" is the wonderful, inspirational, true story of a lost boy. Lopez Lomong began his life in South Sudan in the midst of a long civil war. Yet if it hadn't been for the deaths occurring around him, the hot, dry land that Sudan is made of, and the deep poverty of his people, he wouldn't have made it to the Olympic Games. At the tender age of 6 years old, Lopepe was torn from his mother's arms by soldiers, dislocated from the small life he knew, and carried away to the brutal unknown. He became a "lost boy", alone, unable to be with his family. Piece by piece, you are able to see how God was working in his life, singling him out and preparing him for a life much better than being a rejected captive. As Lopepe tells his story in this book, you will see time and time again the ways that doors are opened for him, taking him one step closer to his dream. The day that he discovered the Olympics was a day that marked a desire to achieve something huge with his life. Lopez Lomong is a runner. As a child, he ran for the joy of it. Growing older, he ran because in Sudan, it's simply what you do. Soccer is their way of life, and to build his strength to play, he ran. As an young adult his view changed. He aspired for something mightier than himself, and he ran for his country. Once Lopepe arrived in America, part of his life-long dream had already come true, but in actuality, it was only a small fraction. His next step was to get on the USA Olympic team. First he had to overcome the culture shock, learn the English language, graduate high school, and to always keep running no matter what. That is a big list to accomplish in just 3 years! He got though it, and it was only because God placed him in just the spot at just the right time. There is so much more to share with you about his life, but I shouldn't go on. You must read it yourself to learn the details of this amazing story. In this biography, Lopez Lomong's Olympic success culminates in Beijing 2008. I would have loved to have known all about his experience in London 2012 too, although I realize the book was just being released at that time, so of course, those details couldn't have been included. Maybe he will write another book to tell more his story, I hope. What a pleasure it was to read "Running for My Life". I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.