Dion Green wondered if he was going to die as tornadoes ripped through Dayton in 2019, destroying his Northridge home.
A few weeks later he watched his father die at the hands of a mass shooter who killed nine people in the Oregon District.
Today Green speaks out to help others who have gone through trauma, helping them recover and advocating for changes to laws that will assist them and prevent future tragedies.
“My story’s written,” said Green, who wants to change the ending for others.
Green was spending time with his family during a Memorial Day cookout just hours before the rain began and the sky flashed with lightning. Green, his now 13-year-old daughter and his daughter’s mother rushed downstairs. Just as he got his dog into the basement, the electricity went out.
“You could just hear the house being torn apart,” he said.
He saw the damage in the morning: his roof, windows, doors, siding, garage and car were all destroyed. It took seven months to put the house in livable condition once again, he said.
After weeks of cleaning and repairing, Green took a rare day off in August to spend with friends and family. He and some relatives decided to go to the Oregon District.
He was standing next to his father, Derrick Fudge, and Green said he still doesn’t understand how he lived and his dad died.
“It was just a nightmare seeing all of the innocent lives taken,” he said.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Green was denied aid from a state program to help victims of violent crimes because his father had a felony drug charge within 10 years of the shooting. Fudge was just months short, and the denial was a “kick in the face,” Green said.
It also spurred him to action. He started the FUDGE Foundation – Flourishing Under Distress Given Encouragement – in honor of his father and began speaking out at the Ohio Statehouse and nationally, challenging laws and advocating for change.
What he is most proud of, however, is watching other survivors speak up and share their stories. Letting it out is a form of recovery, he said, and you never know who you will touch or give hope to by speaking.
“Don’t give up on yourself or your journey,” he said.
Lori Ohlmann, of Centerville, heard about Green’s experiences and learned he was starting a foundation. She reached out and is now on the FUDGE Foundation’s board of directors.
Green is effective at educating people that trauma comes in many forms, Ohlmann said. The foundation serves those affected not only by mass shootings, but also domestic abuse, human trafficking and other forms of violence.
Green has gone through his own traumas with grace and gratitude, she said. When tragedy hits, most people don’t know how to respond. Not Green.
“Dion doesn’t ask what to do,” she said. “He shows up.”
Green, 39, was nominated as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem by his mother, Denise Green of Springfield. She heard him speak about mental health earlier this year and cried happy tears to see how her son had grown.
He was scared after the traumatic events he had endured and thought that God was coming after him. In a way, maybe God was, she said.
“This is his calling,” she said. “This is what God has in store for him. He just had to open his eyes.”
Before the tornado and before the shooting, Green spent eight years in prison on a drug offense, and he says the experience saved his life. He had always been a person of faith, and he said God knew what was in his future and laid a path for him.
God allowed him to live, and each day gives Green a new chance to affect another person’s life.
“He has given me a platform and a voice,” Green said.
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