When the series “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” first premiered on MTV, audience’s general impression was simply camera’s documenting the lavish lives and outlandish spending habits of nine spoiled rich teenagers. Little did the public realize there was a diamond in the rough, one teenager that would take his fame and use it for the better.
Dieter Schmitz, 19, decided after Laguna Beach wrapped its first season to make an attempt at taking the show’s immense popularity by helping out some of its viewers. As a freshman at San Diego State University, Dieter founded an organization called Running Home 4 Teens. On October 9th, 2004, he decided to donate all the proceeds elicited from RH4T to Suicidal Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). Both are non-profitable organizations that strive to help teens that suffer from suicidal thoughts, tendencies, and substance abuse by educating them on depression and other mental illnesses that may be the cause.
The main event for RH4T was Schmitz’s 78 mile journey from the San Diego State campus all the way back to Laguna Beach High School by both biking and running. In preparation for the event, Dieter spent the previous months in intensive training and made promotional appearances along with fellow cast member Stephen Colletti, Trey Phillips, and Lauren Conrad. The aforementioned cast members stepped up by also using their fame in a positive way by spreading the word of Dieter’s noble cause on their personal websites (myspace.com) and via MTV.
The event took place on December 18th, 2004, where Dieter started out at the SDSU campus, biked 50 miles to San Clemente, and preceded to run the remaining 28 miles to Laguna. Dieter arrived at the high school’s track and made his final lap, clocking in at 5:50 PM suffering only from severe leg cramps. All eight cast members, along with friends, family, and fans alike were present to welcome Dieter home and congratulate him on his trying race. Dieter was able to raise $11,000 for RH4T thanks to donations from the public, along with an auction that as held with items up for bid donated from big-name bands like Blink-182 and New Found Glory.
Schmitz is currently writing a book entitled “Laguna Beach, My Run Home” documenting his experiences this past year with Running Home 4 Teens and SAVE. He is also currently on a national tour, speaking at high schools and colleges across the nation, informing adolescents about Running Home 4 Teens and what the organization is about. Dieter plans on making another run in 2005, this time from Tijuana, Mexico back to Laguna. There is no doubt that with the success of he show and last years event, Dieter’s goal of $50,000 is surely within his reach.
For more information on Running Home 4 Teens visit www.runninghome4teens.com.
– Kristin Monahan, May 2005