“Celebrity” Chef Returns to Serve the Community Where He Was Kicked In the Head And Left To Die 30-Years Ago

Alexia Parks
3 min readApr 19, 2020


Meet “Celebrity Chef” Shad Finney deployed to LA County to feed 300 people including the elderly in the Fourth District where he was kicked in the head 30-years-ago by a street gang and left to die. In that instant, his life was forever changed: he lost his ability to speak for seven years and almost lost his life.

Shad grew up in a restaurant family in Burbank, California and later moved with his family to Denver, Colorado where his mother opened a new family restaurant.

I first met Shad Finney in Colorado when he was a bright, idealistic 19-year-old. Fresh out of culinary school and ready to take on the world, he wanted to take time out to stretch his legs with a Walk across America and raise funds for Foster Care kids.

The starting point for Shad’s walk, the place where he met and spoke with news reporters was Santa Monica Pier. Over the next several months, he made his way across America, stopping overnight at each major city to talk to the local news media about the cause he was supporting. I followed his journey with pro-bono media support.

Shad enjoyed this “boots on the ground” style of fundraising and decided to repeat the cross-counry journey two years later. However this time, in an instant, his life was forever changed.

Shad was only 1-hour away from the starting point at the Santa Monica Pier, when he reached the City of Long Beach. Crossing the city alone, he was spotted by a street gang and they began a chase.

Shad was carrying a heavy backpack and lost his balance running around a corner. He fell to the ground and woke up in a hospital bed, unable to speak.

After seven years, he was able to assemble his words into sentences. This was a hopeful sign. His mind worked perfectly. His words took a little longer to return to normal. Over the years, what sounded like complete sentences began to make sense.

During those years, Shad experienced homelessness. He took minimum wage jobs in gas station convenience stores. Then he had a breakthrough. He took a series of…



Alexia Parks

Futurist, Award-Winning Social Impact Entrepreneur CEO ZipHomeChef.com | Chair, 10TRAITS.org | Speaker; UN Mentor; Author; Wikipedia