Welcome to our second installation of “People Empowering People”. Today we introduce you to one of Horry County’s up and coming new voices in the community, Mr. Chad Caton. Many were first introduced to Mr. Caton when last year he challenged past Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus at a Town Hall meeting in the Burgess Community. Canton was not happy with how the County Administration had been treating its First Responders and vocalized it loudly at the podium. Chairman Lazarus appeared insulted that he had been duly challenged and instead of answering or debating, chose to instead degrade not only Chad Caton but an entire group of First Responders by calling them “Union thugs,” before storming out of the meeting. The meeting went viral across social media and has since empowered more citizens to take a stand against the true “thugs” in our government, who are often our own elected officials.
I was later privileged to actually meet Chad and his lovely wife Elizabeth face to face at our first MyrtleBeachSC.com Town Hall meeting in Conway last year, weeks before the hurricanes and before the flooding of our County. I was not at all surprised when the flooding was eminent that Chad had compiled a crew seeking sand, sandbags and volunteers to fill the bags to be given out to local homeowners and businesses in the Socastee area. He seemed to be on autopilot, working almost 24/7 to get the job done. He met and surpassed many hurdles and challenges that week, resulting in his becoming even more adamant that huge changes need to happen within the government of Horry County. Chad firmly believes that the voice needs to be taken out of the hands of the current elected officials and put back into the hands of the citizens it represents.
Please meet Chad Caton and what Empowers him:
#1. Have you always been active in your community? What inspired and then empowered you to become active? Were you raised in an atmosphere which gave rise to your interests of activism, or did you see some injustices in society which you felt you could change?
Caton: I was raised in the country in Illinois. In the country we had no city services and we had to rely on ourselves and our distant neighbors. I was raised that if you have it and someone needs it, help them. It was never a question when someone needed help, you helped. Then serving as a Seabee in the Navy we went into countries after natural disasters and the sort. As far as activism, that came after my injuries and me being unable to fight fire. I got sick and tired of the establishment using and putting people to the side and using their power for themselves and cronies. I’ve always been a fighter. And here in Horry I have Had ENOUGH.
#2. What lead you to care for many of the other issues you have been able to advocate for over the past two to three years?
Caton: Because as I have become more involved in the fight, it’s like an onion, the cabal is so deeply rooted and arrogant I felt I should keep speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves. They have ruled by intimidation and dirty games. Well first, I don’t scare easy and second, I can’t stand someone abusing the trust of the people they represent. I’ve taken the Oath of this country 5 times in my life. I vowed to protect this country from all enemies foreign and DOMESTIC. So I have some skill sets and drive to fight back.
#3. Will you continue to advocate to give more power to the people as you are doing with your public speaking and community service work?
Caton: Lol, I love this question. Hell yes I’ll keep working to fight for the people to have their voice heard. As long as I’m able to be a strong voice for the ideals that make democracy great. Then absolutely I’ll be in the fight because there is too much to change with so many hurting from the actions of a few. Well I’m not going anywhere. So I hope all the ones that have been representing themselves instead of the people know, I will expose you. Enough is enough.
#4. What has been the largest personal challenge you have ever faced to accomplish a goal?
Caton: Wow, I’ve had so many challenges in my life. But the hardest was being hurt as an Horry County firefighter on the job then having neck surgery and shoulder surgery. I was fighting like hell to rehab and train my body to be as strong as I could to get back to the job I love so much. But there’s a ridiculous 180 days policy, which means if you’re hurt on the job you have 180 days to get back or you’re fired. Well I made it back barely and my fourth shift back to work. I lifted a 300 plus pound woman and I pulled a disk in my lower back and collapsed my nerve canal in on my left side. After going back on workman’s comp, I received a letter on Christmas Eve saying I was terminated from the job I loved, all because of a county administrator that knows nothing about being selfless in true service of others. I had used all of my time in that one year time frame. My depression got very bad not knowing what my future held. But I finally decided to fight for my brothers and sisters against a county government that was blowing smoke about our people and what they were doing for them. And here we are today. I’m not sure where I’m going but I’ve found a new purpose fighting again just in a different way.
#5. What was the largest defeat or setback you have experienced in your activist work and how did you overcome that?
Caton: Lol. Well every target or mission I’ve undertaken, I have accomplished and I haven’t had a true defeat yet. I hope I never do with integrity and passion and drive on my side. It’s hard to lose as long as you’re in a just fight. That being said I’ve had some bumps and bruises. Like being asked by the Mayor of Myrtle Beach, Brenda Bethune, to leave the Soccastee sand pits during the flood so she could do a photo op with some other establishment elected officials. That was so childish, they could not even come on the property because I was there running strike teams to neighborhoods. She said, “Fill sand bags or leave the property.” as if she was the Mayor of Soccastee. Instead of making a scene in the middle of something beautiful being done by so many people, I got in my truck and left. That one hurt. Seeing such blind evil from someone who is supposed to lead actually made me sick. But some wonderful people got up with me and in 12 hours we moved that operation to St. James high. Again we won the war.
#6. Which part of what you do in the community makes all the long hours and hard work worth it to you?
Caton: Great question. Knowing my actions or words can motivate change. It’s a very humbling thing that me and my beautiful wife Elizabeth embrace as who we are as people. Meeting people that say, “Hey man keep it up I’m with you.” All the support and love we have been shown and seeing some smiles we have been able to help bring about, it makes it all worth it. I pray we can always be voices for positive change and love. Horry deserves it.
#7. Tell us about a few of the people you have met on your journey that have empowered YOU to accomplish some of the things you have.
Caton: The people we have met?!?! Wow, we have been so blessed to meet some of the most amazing people Lisa, you bring one of them. It truly is amazing and speaks volumes of the quality of great people here in Horry County. With names like Downshift Jimmy and personalities as colorful as the rainbow, one of my favorites is my brand new Grams that we met during the flood. Ms. Joann. My wife was helping the Midtown filled with families from the flood and everyone was telling me to be careful of the “Pantry Cop”, I was like like WHO? Lol. Then I met Ms. Joann. Wow here is this 70ish older woman looking at me as I walked through the door to the room and bam, “Shut the door, shut the door all the air is going out, sheesh.” I turned and walked right out like she was going to hurt me. Lol. Long story short my wife and I call her Grams because she is so sweet and special to us. She loves her Ravens and she will tell you about it. But, through all we have been through, finding Grams has been such a blessing in our lives.
#8. What advice would you give to the new person concerned with the issues? How would you motivate them to get involved? How do YOU empower other people?
Caton: The best way to empower people is through action. I try so hard to walk the walk. I feel that’s the absolute best way to lead and empower others is to just do it, find your voice, talk to those in the fight. Don’t leave the talking to the establishment, they are too good at it. Show them. Stand up. Be heard and hold them accountable. It’s your government “Of the people by the people.” We just need to keep reminding some people of this. Just get involved, and at the very least, VOTE!!!! If you don’t know who to vote for call me. I’ll give you a list. Lol.
Thank you Chad Caton for your candor and honesty. You are a rare gift in a large sea of apathy among many of our young people today. Please continue to do what you do, a great job moving and shaking the status quo in Horry.
Please check out “People Empowering People” next week as we feature someone who has made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds just by being the right person at the right time in a world where lives were, and still are, falling apart.
Lisa Bean Williams