Al Pulis is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Associated Brokers in Branson, MO. I first met Al a couple of years ago when his broker recommended he co-list a property with me. He made a great first impression on me, incredibly professional, soft-spoken, kind, intelligent, mannerly and always dressed impeccably in a nice suit. He is the kind of man that exudes high ethics and morals, and you find yourself standing a little taller and speaking in your most proper English without even realizing it, but feeling incredibly comfortable around him at the same time. You instinctively knew you were in the presence of a friend.
When I told Al that I was getting married earlier this year, he immediately volunteered to perform our ceremony. I had no idea that Al was an ordained minister, but it didn't really surprise me at all. He didn't wear his religion on his sleeve....it showed in his actions and the way he treated those around him. He doesn't spout his religion or beliefs....he LIVES them. I didn't have to think about it long at all before I took Al up on his offer. I couldn't imagine anyone else that I would love more to share that special moment with me and my husband. Though I tried hard to downplay our ceremony, insisting on family only, Al and his wife weren't about to let me skip on some details. Rather than question or press me, they simply handled it themselves....quietly. I was surprised to walk into the church and find it decorated with flowers, and his wife Marilyn quietly playing the piano in the corner. It was so beautiful. And they wouldn't accept a dime from me. It was overwhelming to me that this couple would go so far out of their way for someone they had only met in person a couple of times. I had never even met his wife, Marilyn, before my wedding day. Such a random act of kindness.
Two weeks after my wedding, I received word from Al's office that he had been diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer, and they were rushing him in for surgery. My heart broke. Not Al...no!!!! It wasn't fair! I followed the updates through his friends and coworkers, and was pleased to finally hear that Al's surgery was successful and he was on the road to recovery. That was in July 2011.
You can imagine how surprised I was when Al contacted me in October....only 4 months after having much of his colon removed and still recovering from cancer....and asked me if I would help him in a project.
While recovering from colon cancer, Al had decided that he was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Me: You're going to do WHAT?!?
Al: I'm going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in January. Isn't that great?!
Me: Why in the world would you do that?
Al: To help raise money to drill wells in Tanzania. It was weighing so heavy on me, and I've decided to use my new lease on life to do something to help others. Children are dying every day in Tanzania from lack of water, and they don't have the equipment to drill their own wells. At first I thought I'd try to raise money to drill a well for a village. Then I decided it made more sense to just raise money to buy a well-drilling rig so they could drill MANY wells. Can you help me?
I was shocked! Part of me wanted to tell him he absolutely could not, and SHOULD not, be doing this. Not now. He's still healing! But in the end, I decided if Al Pulis can climb Mt. Kilimanjaro while recovering from Stage 3 colon cancer, then the least I could do was build him a website to help raise awareness. Of course I would help him.
Al enlisted the help of some friends from his church and we met to discuss the details of the trip. I saw Al's enthusiasm for this project, and couldn't help but be inspired. Al is paying his own way for him and his wife. He insists on every penny going towards the purchase of the equipment. While working with Al on the website, I learned that he is turning 70 years old next year! Once again, I wanted to shout at him that he could not, and SHOULD not, be doing this. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is an extraordinary feat for a young, healthy man. I do NOT like the idea of Al taking this risk, but I also realized that holding him back would do more than harm him physically....it would crush his spirit. His spirit is what I love about him the most.
I think about Al and his quiet presence, and I wonder how many times he has been overlooked and undervalued by others during his life, and I wonder just how many people have missed what an amazing person he is. I can't recall ever having met someone in my own lifetime who was willing to put their own life and livelihood at risk for the benefit of others to this extent. But for Al, it is never the recognition he will receive...it's about the benefit he can provide to others. He may be a quiet man, but his heart speaks volumes. This world would be a beautiful place if everyone had a little "Al Pulis" in them.
If you would like to help donate to Al's mission, you may visit the website at www.operationtanzania.com, or donate by using the links provided on this page. I hope you will help me in making Al's dream come true.
About the author: I am full-time REALTOR® with RE/MAX Solutions in Springfield, MO, and a member of the Greater Springfield Board of REALTORS®. I have helped hundreds of families in the Springfield, Nixa, Republic and Ozark real estate markets, whether buying a home, or selling a home. Visit my website to search for All Springfield MO Area MLS listings. Want to know what our market is like? My website is also an excellent resource for current Springfield MO Area Real Estate Market Reports, as well as current market reports for Ozark, Nixa, Republic, and Rogersville.