The film is currently in pre-production. Filming will take place in Miami, Jamaica and Orlando. We are working with the Orlando Film Commissioner for locations in Orlando.
FROM HOPELESS TO GREATNESS
The Joey Goodrich Story
Synopsis by: Sandi Morais
(Based on a true story)
To be filmed in Miami, Jamaica, Orlando, Virginia & Shanghai China.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s Speech:
"You are the stars and the world is watching you.
By your presence you send a message to every village,
every city, every nation. A message of hope, a message of victory.”
From Hopeless to Greatness is an inspirational, heart-warming story about two women from different cultures. Jamaican-born Sandi Morais, a thirty-five year-old Pre-School teacher and Patricia Goodrich, a forty year-old American Caucasian, Executive Director of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Miami, Florida. Both women were relentless in their pursuit to save Joey Goodrich, who was an intellectually and developmentally challenged Hispanic boy from being locked away. Joey faced innumerable obstacles and roadblocks created by apathetic, indifferent case workers and a medical system that deemed him worthless and wanted to lock him into an institution to spend the rest of his life.
Carl Ferguson, the President & CEO of the Orlando Special Olympics office said,
“A film like this is necessary to help change the perspective of how people view children and adults with intellectual and developmental challenges.”
(About one baby born each hour is addicted to opiate drugs in U.S., U-M study shows
more mothers using drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, giving birth to babies with drug withdrawal, results of study published in JAMA.)
(In the research published April 30 in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
U-M physicians found that diagnosis of neonatal abstinence syndrome, a drug withdrawal syndrome among newborns, almost tripled between 2000 and 2009.)
1982 Mercy Hospital Miami, Florida a young Hispanic woman age nineteen is giving birth. We hear screams as the doctors and nurses surround her. One nurse takes the new born baby boy from the mother over to the nurses station. The baby is crying and going in and out of convulsion. The woman is being wheeled into another room. She is screaming “Don’t take my baby away, Please, don’t take my baby away.”
1985 - Dade Foster Care. Patricia Goodrich, a 5’ 2” 43 year-old, very strong and intelligent woman walks into the room with her husband Larry Goodrich 42 years-old. The case worker shakes their hands and gives Patricia a file. The name on the file reads “ Joey,” Patricia opens the file and reads some background information on Joey. His mother was a nineteen year-old heroin drug addict, and Joey had been shuffled to 11 different foster homes. Patricia and Larry did not have any children of their own and she felt so much compassion for Joey and wanted to give him a loving home. Patricia and Larry signed the adoption papers and left Dade Foster Care with their son three year-old Joey Goodrich.
Two years later 1987 - Lakeview Pre-School. Five year-old Joey is screaming and throwing a tantrum. His behavior is very bizarre. Ms. Gertrude, the principal carries Joey and locks him into a closet. She referred to him as the “Monster child from hell.” Joey’s behavior continued to get worse and Ms. Gertrude expelled him from her school. Patricia was concerned about Joey’s bizarre behavior so she had him tested.
Five year-old Joey was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills, which includes Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism. The doctor told Patricia that Joey would never be able to read, and he would eventually lose his ability to speak because his brain was so severely damaged by his birth mother’s drug addiction including heroin, and that he would never be able to function in a regular school. The doctor suggested that Patricia enroll Joey at the Family Development Center in downtown Miami, Florida. The Center was an Elementary school for severely, intellectually, emotionally and developmentally challenged children.
Patricia enrolled Joey at the Family Development Center, but his bizarre behavior continued at the Center. Joey could not follow directions or stay on task. He was constantly disruptive. The teachers did not have any patience for Joey so they would drag him down the hallway to the time-out room while he was kicking and screaming where he would spend the entire school day in a little room with no windows. During Joey’s school years at the Center he would also spend time in and out at the Highland Park Hospital for medication adjustments.
In 1992, Dr. Silverstein, Joey’s Psychologist, a handsome forty-eight year-old 6’ 2” (Brad Pitt look-a like) man with salt and pepper hair interviewed thirty-five year-old Sandi Morais, a physically fit 5’ 3” very attractive Jamaican woman to work one-on-one with Joey. Dr. Silverstein had interviewed fifty applicants for the job but there was something about Sandi’s warm and caring personality that he believed would be a good fit for Joey.
INT. OFFICE - MORNING-
Camera close up on DR. ZACK SILVERSTEIN, he is a very handsome athletic 48 year-old 6'2" tall Caucasian man with piercing blue eyes and dark brown hair. He is wearing a designer's earth tone shirt with dark brown slacks that compliment his shirt. He is standing by a filing cabinet going through some files. Camera pans over to MRS. PATRICIA GOODRICH, she is a 5’2" tall Causican woman, age 40 with light brown shoulder length hair. She is sharply dressed in a business suit sitting by Dr. Silverstein's desk. Camera pans back over to Dr. Silverstein. He takes out a file, then walks over to his desk and sits down. He puts the file on his desk.
DR. SILVERSTEIN, “Mrs. Goodrich, for the past 30 days, I have interviewed at least 50 teachers and I believe that I have selected the perfect one-on-one to work with your son. PATRICIA, “Male or female?” DR. SILVERSTEIN, “A female Jamaican woman.
PATRICIA, “What are her qualifications”?
Dr. Sliverstein picks up the file and gives it to Patricia. Patricia takes the file and looks through it. PATRICIA (CONT’D) “Dr. Silverstein, is this a joke?” DR. SILVERSTEIN, “What do you mean Mrs. Goodrich?” Patricia gets up from the chair. PATRICIA, “She is not a Special Education teacher. Her degree is in Early Childhood Education. How is she going to work with my son?”
Dr. Silverstein gets up from his desk and walks around to Patricia. DR. SILVERSTEIN, “Mrs. Goodrich, I understand your concern, and I am very much aware of your son’s emotional and mental challenges. I have an intuitive feeling that I have hired the right person to work with Joey.”
Camera close up on Patricia looking at Dr. Silverstein. PATRICIA, “Dr. Silverstein, as the school’s psychologist, I do respect your position, but I disagree with your decision to hire an Early Childhood education teacher to work with Joey.” DR. SILVERSTEIN, “Trust me Mrs. Goodrich, I believe this is going to work.” There is a change in Patricia's attitude. She becomes agitated and more defiant and aggressive. PATRICIA, “Look, Dr. Silverstein, you know that I have been down this road many times before. Some of teachers with Masters degrees in Special Education last for a week, and some just a day. This woman has no training in mental health. I don’t believe this going to work.”
Patricia looks at her watch. She is not interested in continuing this discussion. PATRICIA CONT’ “Dr. Silverstein, I have to get back to the Women's Chamber of Commerce. I have some important business to attend to.” Dr. Silverstein stops Patricia in her tracks. In his impeccable charming manner he speaks to her. DR. SILVERSTEIN (smiles) “Please wait, Mrs. Goodrich, I think you should at least meet with her before you leave. Dr. Silverstein walks back over to his desk and presses the intercom. He speaks through it. DR. SILVERSTEIN CONT’ “FIONA, could you please send Ms. Sandi Morais to my office. FIONA'S VOICE Okay.
LONG SHOT - HALLWAY MEDIUM - CLOSE SHOT - SANDI MORAIS, a 35 year-old Jamaican woman is wearing a floral dress accentuating her fit body. She is walking briskly down the hallway. Camera follows her walking towards Dr. Sliverstein's office. Sandi knocks on the door. INT. DR. SLIVERSTEIN'S OFFICE Dr. Silverstein opens the door. DR. SILVERSTEIN, “Come in Ms. Morais. Sandi walks into the office. Dr. Silverstein introduces both women.
CUT TO: CUT BACK TO: DR. SILVERSTEIN CONT’ “Ms. Sandi Morais, this is Joey's mother Mrs. Patricia Goodrich.” Patricia shakes Sandi's hand. PATRICIA (sarcastic) “Very nice to meet you Ms. Morais.” SANDI, “Very nice to meet you as well Mrs.Goodrich.” Patricia looks at her watch again. PATRICIA, “I have to go.” Dr. Silverstein senses the tension from Patricia. This is a very awkward moment for Sandi and Patricia, and he tries to cover it up. He begins to fumble with his words. DR. SILVERSTEIN, “Ms. Morais, I just wanted you to meet Mrs. Goodrich very briefly. She is the Executive Director of the Women's Chamber of Commerce, and she is in a hurry to get back to her office for an important meeting.” Patricia walks out the office. INT. HALLWAY CUT TO:
Sandi had no prior experience working in a Special Education Program because her degree was in Early Childhood Education. The first day at the Center Sandi was taken on a journey into Joey’s bizarre, complicated and isolated world as she watched him crawl around the floor trying to catch bugs that were not there. Joey would also gallop like a horse around the classroom and whinny just like the horse. Sandi was petrified. She could not believe that a ten year-old child could behave in such a manner. Her thoughts wondered what was going on in his head. She was in total shock. A teacher walked into the class-room and saw the petrified look on Sandi’s face. The teacher walked over to Sandi and whispered in her ear. “You’ll get use to it. Treat it like a coat, put it on to come in, and take it off when you leave.”
Working with Joey was exhausting. Joey needed constant re-direction to keep his mind from wondering with strange thoughts, and keep him focused on school task. Sandi was emotionally drained and did not have the energy to take care of her seven year-old daughter Kamla. Sandi wanted to quit. Sandi shared her feelings about quitting with her mother Olive Excell. Her mother told her not to walk away from Joey because he was a victim of his circumstances and was not responsible for his intellectual and emotional challenges. Sandi’s mother had adopted six children (five girls and one boy) and raised them in Jamaica with Sandi and her two sisters. Sandi’s mother was known in Jamaica as “Mother” to many children. She told Sandi that all she needed to give Joey was love. “You can give without loving Sandi, but you can’t love without giving.” Give Joey all the love you can.”
INT. NORMAN MANDLEY AIRPORT KINGSTON JAMAICA:
The airport is crowded. We hear Bob Marley's Reggae music "One Love" playing. We see people walking up to the Customs windows. Sandi is pulling a small suitcase, her seven year-old daughter Kamla is walking beside her, they walk up to the Customs window. Sandi gives the Customs Officer both passports. The officer stamps the passports, smiles and gives them back to her.
EXT. SANDI'S MOTHER'S HOUSE The taxi cab pulls up to the front of the house. The driver
gets out and opens the door. Sandi and Kamla step out of the taxi. The driver opens the trunk and gives Sandi the suitcases, she pays the driver. CUT TO: INT. SANDI'S MOTHER'S LIVING ROOM The housekeeper is excited, she hugs Sandi and Kamla.
OLIVE EXCELL, wearing a long white summer dress walks into the living room. She has a strong and commanding presence. Olive is a very attractive 5' 5" tall 59 year-old woman with
light brown complexion and black shoulder length hair, slighting greying to the front. She hugs Sandi. Olive speaks with a strong Jamaican accent. She goes from speaking her native Patois dialect to speaking the Queens English at times. OLIVE (to Sandi) Sandi it so good fi see you. I'm so glad you are here. SANDI It always feel so good to come back home Mama.
CUT TO: NEXT DAY EXT. BEACH - JUST BEFORE SUNSET Camera zooms on the beautiful white sandy beach. The turquoise blue crystal clear water. Camera follows Sandi and Olive walking on the beach. OLIVE, “Sandi, what do you want to talk to me about?” SANDI, “Mama, I'm thinking of quitting the job with Joey.” OLIVE, “Why?” SANDI, “Because I don't think I can handle it.” OLIVE, “Stop talking nonsense. What you mean you can't handle a little 10 year-old boy?” SANDI, “Mama, Joey is not a normal 10 year-old boy.” OLIVE, “What's wrong with Joey? Sandi is feeling overwhelmed and guilty at the same time. SANDI, “He has brain damage. His biological mother was a crack and heroin addict. Joey hears voices. Working with Joey drains me emotionally. Sometimes I don’t have anything left inside me to attend to my own daughter, and it is not fair to Kamla. Joey has physical, emotional and intellectual challenges and I don't have have any training in mental health to work with him.”
Camera pans from Sandi to Olive's reaction. OLIVE, “Sandi, I adopted six children five girls and one boy and raised them with you and your two sisters with no special training.” Sandi walks off. SANDI, “Mama, you had children of your own already. There was no reason to adopt six more children.” Olive walks off, and stares out to the ocean. OLIVE, “Yes, Sandi, I had to adopt them.” Sandi walks up to her. SANDI, “Why Mama, Why?” Camera zooms on Olive's face. OLIVE, “Because, I know what it's feels like to grow up without my mother. Tears begin to well up in Olive's eyes. OLIVE CONT’ “Sandi, I was only 8 years-old when my mother died. My sister was 5, and my little brother was only 3. We were sent to live with our aunt, and she treated us very unkind. I cried myself to sleep many nights longing for my mother.” Sandi is hearing this for the first time. Tears begin to roll down Sandi's cheeks.
OLIVE CONT’ “When I was 9 years-old, I made a covenant to God that I would be a mother to children in need, so they would not have to experience what I went through, and I kept my promise. Camera close on Olive's face. Tears rolling down her cheeks. OLIVE CONT’ “Sandi, Joey needs love, not special training. You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving.” Camera close on Sandi hugging Olive. THREE DAYS LATER CHILDREN SPECIAL NEEDS CENTER INT. SCHOOL'S LIBRARY - MORNING CUT TO:
As Sandi continued to work with Joey she had to think out-of-the box and develop her own strategy to teach him. Joey had a fascination for legos and dinosaurs. He also was obsessed with the Tasmanian Devil, and he was intrigue with the different countries on the world globe. Sandi turned his fascination for legos and dinosaurs into a learning experience and taught him how to count. She created a pre-math skills game and taught Joey his primary geometrical shapes and colors. She taught him social studies using the countries on the globe. Over time Joey began to make strides academically.
1994. FLASH BACK
Philip Michael Thomas’ Miami-Way Theater/SpaceShip Recording Studio was the Mecca of Arts and Culture from 1984 thru 1998. INT. THEATER DISSOLVE THROUGH TO: Camera pans on the lavender painted walls showing the key to the city of Miami and various certificates of appreciation that Philip received over the years. Camera close in on a plaque from the Women's Chamber of Commerce thanking Philip for his contribution to children with Special Needs. Sandi met Philip on the set of the Miami Vice pilot in 1984.
Sandi arranged a field trip for Joey and ten other children along with four teachers from the Center to the Miami-Way Theater/ Space Ship Recording Studio. BEATRICE - It’s so nice to meet you Mr. Thomas. It's kind of you to invite the children from the Special Needs Center to sing at your upcoming awards ceremony for Women’s Chamber of Commerce. PHILIP This award is really for the children. They are the one that deserve it.
As the teachers were being escorted into Spaceship recording studio to meet Philip, Camera close on Joey's face. His eyes are open wide, and he is breathing hard. Joey is looking down on the floor. Camera pans down on the African Lion face rug in the corner of the room. JOEY'S POV Joey sees the Lion growing at him. Joey is terrified. He screams and runs out of the recording studio down the stairs. Sandi shouts. Joey! Come back. Philip jumps up from the piano and runs down the stairs after him. Sandi is running behind them. Joey runs through the door and out into the street.
CUT TO: EXT. STREET LONG SHOT: We see cars coming down the street. Joey is confused, he does not know which way to go. The drivers are honking their horn. Philip is trying to get to Joey by dodging the cars. We see a car getting close to Joey. Sandi screams. SANDI, “No!” Philip shouts. PHILIP, “JOEY!” Joey is startled at the voices. He stops and turns around. Philip grabs Joey just in the nick of time. RETURN BACK TO PRESENT:
Joey was admitted to Hyde Park hospital for medication adjustments after the incident at Philip’s Miami Way Theater. Sandi went to the hospital to work with him. During her time working with Joey at the hospital Joey began to trust Sandi and a special bond was created between them. Joey behavior improved over the next three years.
1997 - Sandi resigned her position as Joey’s teacher and went on to work as the Physical Education teacher at Sunset Christian Academy. This was a hard decision for Sandi to make, but she wanted to give Joey the opportunity to try and function on his own without her being his shadow. Over the years Sandi kept in touch with Joey, but one day in the year 2000 she called Joey’s home to talk to him but his home number was disconnected. Her heart skipped a beat. Sandi was very sad because that was her only way of contacting Joey.
However, her life over the next years took on another phase as her friendship with Philip blossomed into a beautiful relationship and they wrote a musical fairy-tale titled “Sacha.” http://www.sandimorais.com/sacha.html Even though Sandi’s life was busy producing and directing “Sacha” with Philip she never stopped thinking about Joey Goodrich. He touched her heart in a special way and she always wondered what ever happen to him. Sandi wanted desperately to get in touch with Joey.
In 2008 while Sandi and Philip were watching the presidential election of Barack Obama. Sandi decided to break away from the television for a moment and do an internet search to try and find Joey Goodrich. She put his name into the Google Search and to her surprise a photo came up with Joey in Shanghai, China. Sandi was so shocked, she ran across the room screaming. “Philip, I found Joey, I found Joey.”
She eagerly continued to search the internet and found out that Patricia Goodrich was living in Virginia and working at Virginia Tech. The next day Sandi called Virginia Tech and spoke to Patricia, who was very happy to hear from her. Patricia filled Sandi in on all the years that had gone by since she stopped working with Joey. She told Sandi that Joey was very sad after she stopped working with him and his behavior deteriorated, and he was hospitalized. Joey’s case worker Mr. Hernandez, a heartless, cold, callous and insensitive man told her that Joey was a hopeless case and that he would not amount to anything. Mr. Hernandez wanted Patricia to sign some papers to have Joey sent to Lockdown. It was an institution where he would spend the rest of his life. Patricia was livid, she ripped up the papers and refused to sign them. Patricia would not allow the system to lock away her beloved son. She went on to tell Sandi that she sneaked Joey out of the hospital one day and boarded an Amtrak train to Virginia.
Patricia told Sandi that living in Virginia was not a bed of roses because Joey was hospitalized in Virginia and he faced innumerable obstacles and roadblocks created by apathetic, indifferent people that only saw Joey’s inability and not his ability. She had to continue fighting with the system in Virginia not to lock Joey away. Joey was moved to a different hospital in Virginia and a new doctor by the name of Roberto Rodriquez was assigned to Joey’s case.
Doctor Roberto Rodriquez, was a very gentle soft spoken older man who was the director of the hospital unit. Dr. Rodriquez told Patricia that he was doing some research on a particular drug that he wanted to try with Joey that might help to correct his brain. Dr Rodriquez told her that the drug was very dangerous and there was a 50/50 chance that it could help Joey, and a 50/50 chance that it could take his life. He told Patricia to think about it and let him know if she would be open to have him test the drug with Joey. This was a hard decision for Patricia to make. She was a crossroad, but she had been on a roller coaster ride to hell with Joey for 13 years. If there was one chance in a million that the drug could help her son, she was willing to take that 50/50 chance.
As fate would have it the drug miraculously changed Joey’s life. At the age of 20 Joey graduated with a Special Education diploma. He went on to compete in the local Virginia Special Olympics games, then on to the state level where he won a gold medal in Shot-Put that qualified him to compete in the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China. He was the first New River Valley resident from the State of Virginia to compete in the World Special Olympic Games in 20 years. Over 7,500 athletes from 160 countries around the world competed in the Special Olympics World Games.
Joey Goodrich achieved success beyond everyone’s wildest imagination. He won three silver medals for the United States of America at the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai, China. Joey won the silver medal in the 100-meter dash, the silver medal in Shot-Put, and the silver medal in the 4x4 meters relay.
Joey beat the odds that was stacked up against him. Patricia and Sandi’s unconditional love and compassion for Joey helped changed his life and put him on a path to success. Joey soared like an Eagle to new heights and went from Hopeless to Greatness and became a World Special Olympic Champion.
At the end of the movie we will see spectacular excerpts from the 2007 Special
Olympics. We will also see the highlights of the real Joey Goodrich winning the three
silver medals. We will hear Quincy Jones’ 2007 Special Olympics song “I Know I Can,”
and the theme song for the movie “A Friend” written by Philip Michael Thomas, Sandi Morais and Diamond York. We will also hear the speech of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics.
"You are the stars and the world is watching you.
By your presence you send a message to every village,
every city, every nation. A message of hope, a message of victory.”
© 2001 - Sandi Morais. All Rights Reserved.