A few months ago I was looking for content for my TV show when a press release caught my eye. It came from friend and marketing guru, Julie Bryant. Not every compelling story makes a good TV episode, but this one seemed to have the necessary elements and the added advantage of being convenient to shoot. So, one fine summer's day I found myself face to face with a pair of equine veterinarians, Keith Latson, a Calfornia orthopedist specializing in race horses, and Rob Franklin, a Texas internist specializing in cutting horses.

I knew there were multiple topics we could explore. One was how probiotics - living microorganisms – can aid in the digestive health of equids and how the good doctors had designed a particularly effective probiotic as the flagship product in their fledgling company, FullBucketHealth. I can tease educational content out of any product feature so we were off to a good start.

However, I soon realized that Latson and Franklin were more interested in talking about the Equitarian Initiative, a humanitarian program sponsored by the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Veterinarians and lay people travel to underdeveloped regions to treat working horses and donkeys and educate their owners. The equitarian's motto is “Help a horse. Help a family.” All right! This was just the kind of human interest story I could sink my teeth into, and Julie had mentioned there were photos available from the doctors’ work in Mexico. The interview was turning out better than I expected. But the best was yet to come.

You see, this was really all about paying it forward. At the height of their professional careers, these two thirty-something family men were on fire with the spirit of giving back. The most recent beneficiaries had been dirt-poor Mexicans whose horses and donkeys – animals with neglected and deformed feet, open saddle sores, and malnourishment – were key to survival for entire families.

Already, the docs were planning a similar trip to Guatemala on the same sort of mission, leaving in their wake patched-up animals, a bit of education and hope for the locals, and training for other equitarians learning the ropes.

Latson and Franklin were incredibly generous with their time and expertise but they found a way to have even greater impact. Remember the probiotic? Instead of pocketing the profits, the vets had created a program called Care+Care. Buy a bucket of their product and they donate another bucket to a needy horse or donkey somewhere in the world. Wow.

We talked for the better part of an hour. As the interview began to wind down, Rob said that they would be taking their young families with them on the Guatemala trip and he let slip what was, for me, the most telling statement of the day. “We want to show our kids the importance of giving back.” And there it was, the real heart of this story. Paying it forward to these guys means more than just giving of their time and money to help others. It means instilling the same animating values in their children, helping them to understand the role of good works in making a better world and a more rewarding life. Paying it forward with young eyes watching sets the stage for carrying the best of human nature forward to future generations. Now that is a compelling message.

TV episode “Mission to Mexico”
Radio interview on probiotics with Keith Latson, D.V.M. and Rob Franklin, D.V.M.