Brothers Duncan and Jonnie Penn spoke at Willway elementary school in Langford where their aunt Jane Penn (centre) is the principal. Duncan and Jonnie star in the MTV series The Buried Life.

At Willway, where there’s a will, there’s a way

Buried Life boys drop into elementary school in Langford

Dreaming big is something two homegrown Victoria boys know something about.

Jonnie and Duncan Penn, two of the stars of the MTV show The Buried Life and who have hung out with such luminaries as the U.S. president and Oprah Winfrey, paid a visit to Willway elementary in Langford last week.

Before the brothers and their two friends Ben Nemtin and Dave Lingwood started the project of “100 things to do before you die” in 2006, they were in need of a vehicle for travelling. So they picked up the phone and started calling friends, family and anyone who could help. Their aunt Jane Penn, principal of Willway elementary, offered up her 1976 Winnebago.

“We thought we could contribute to their dream,” Jane said. “You never know the small gifts and differences that you make in people’s lives. I am pleased to pay it forward with the Winnebago and for what they boys have done.”

Jane said she never imagined what her nephews would accomplish after she gave them her camper.

From playing basketball at the White House with President Barack Obama to riding a bull, to opening the six ‘o clock news, the four friends have lived a life that most people dream about.

They are guys who don’t take “no” for an answer. Throughout their presentation to Willway students on April 8, the brothers talked about how being persistent helped them conquer one goal at a time.

Duncan and Jonnie said when they decided to hit the court with Obama, no one believed it would be possible. They showed up at the White House and, not surprisingly, were turned away. They stood outside the gates in rented suits.

“We stayed outside the White House and asked everyone we saw if they knew the president,” Jonnie said.

They called members of congress and anyone they could think of that might be able to help them gain an audience with the president. Eventually the four friends found help with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood, and were able to shoot hoops with Obama.

The MTV show began airing in in January 2010, but the project began in 2006 when the four men were filming independently.

“You can do anything you dream, so dream big,” Jonnie told the students.

These native Victorians have crashed a party at the Playboy mansion, gotten a lock of Twilight actor Robert Pattinson’s hair, escaped from a desert island and asked pop icon Taylor Swift on a date.

Duncan even managed to be the president of eBay.ca for a day, but said he was asked not to come back after trying to sell the company on the website.

Jonnie and Duncan have been working their bucket list for years now. It started when they were attended University of Victoria and started making lists of things they would like to accomplish.

“We didn’t know how how we were going to do them, but we just wrote them down,” Duncan said.

The four friends decided to start filming their conquests, and at the same time they wanted to help other people.

“We were having fun crossing things off our list, but we were really enjoying crossing things off other people’s lists,” Jonnie said. They’ve helped people conquer many things, from their fear of heights by getting on a roller coaster to helping a young teen  obtain and furnish an apartment for his homeless father.

“They’ve inspired me,” Jane remarked. “They’ve taught me it’s never too late to go after your dreams.”

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

 

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