In 1990, Tony Hicks came to live with his grandfather after a young life overexposed to violence, gangs, abuse, rejection, and rage. Ples was a role model, boundary, and passionate grandfather to Tony but the teenage years were difficult. One afternoon in January 1995 Tony ran away from home to be with the wrong crowd. That night, after a day of drinking and drugs, Tony became part of a pizza delivery robbery. He was given a loaded handgun and told to shoot the driver who had refused to give up the pizzas.
Tony murdered twenty-year- old Tariq Khamisa, an innocent young man working his way through college. At the age of fourteen, Tony became the youngest juvenile in California to be charged and convicted as an adult. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Tony’s first parole hearing is scheduled for 2018.
In September 1995, Mr. Felix received word through the District Attorney’s Office that Azim Khamisa, the father of Tariq, wanted to meet him. “It was a God-inspired meeting and with a handshake I committed to do anything to help his family.” As an unbelievable act, the Khamisa family chose to forgive Tony and saw there were victims on both ends of the gun. Ples joined Mr. Khamisa in launching TKF and together they have channeled their pain into real action that successfully addresses youth violence. Over the last twenty years Ples and Azim have developed a strong and genuine brotherly bond. Together they have delivered their messages on the realities and harm of violence, practicing forgiveness, and becoming peacemakers to more than one million children locally and internationally.
“Our world is in urgent need of TKF’s powerfully, sustainable messages of forgiveness, empathy, compassion, peace, and love for all children as a primary doctrine of learning in every school and in every village in our world.” Mr. Felix is a leader dedicated and passionate in his mission to ensure that our children, regardless of their backgrounds or struggles, have the strategies for a strong foundation, support in healing, and opportunities for achievement. Ples looks forward to the day when his grandson joins him in TKF’s transformational efforts.