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The financial records are relevant. It always has been unclear how Gachelin can afford to house and feed up to fifteen boys at a time -- and to raise his own two young children -- primarily on his wife's salary as a public school teacher. ESPN magazine fueled the debate by quoting a “GMAC source” as saying, “He's in someone's pockets big-time.”
On this sweltering morning, as he works through his circuit, Gachelin reasserts his financial independence: “Bro, I'm telling you, I never took one dime! Not one dime! I will swear on my mother's life, on a stack of Bibles. I am in nobody's pocket! If you take money from someone then they own you, and nobody owns me.”
He recently secured a job selling Craftmatic adjustable beds. During rests between exercises, he's been trying to memorize a sales script provided by the company. “I needed the extra income,” he says as he moves over to the pulldown machine. He lodges a pair of fuzzy brown slippers under the machine for leverage, then smoothly glides the bar down to his neck, six, seven, eight times.
“Look,” he says when he finishes the set. “There are no books. I'll be honest with you. There are no minutes. There's nothing to show you. The whole reason we formed the nonprofit was to give people a place they could donate. But yeah, I've got to tighten stuff up.
“Everyone is coming down on me, bringing the heat,” he continues while dabbing sweat from his forehead. “After the [ESPN] article came out, there was so much heat that my wife sat me down and said maybe it's time to stop the operation. I don't want to quit, but you wouldn't believe the heat -- from the coaches at Jackson, from other schools, even on the street here, the neighbors yell at me for not sending my boys to Northwestern.
“When I was in the Marines in Japan, I used to fight on the streets. The people, they'd look at my face and say, “He's soft.' But bro, I tell you I'm not soft. I am vicious. When I am fighting, I will not stop. Yet even I can't stand the heat I'm getting here. I don't want you to get the idea that I'm a coward, but with all this heat I'm drawing, I just don't know.
“What's the worst that can happen? My wife and I shut this all down. Nobody would be bothering us, and we could lead a simple life raising our own two kids.”
GMAC head Fred Rodgers is looking carefully for an excuse to shut down Gachelin involuntarily: “We're going to be watching everything he does,” he says.
Dan Boyd of the FHSAA plans to reinvestigate Gachelin's operation when he makes his next trip down to Miami-Dade.
It's not yet 10:00 in the morning, but the sun already cooks Liberty City at 90 degrees. It's getting late. Gachelin needs to clean up before making his first sales call of the day. He picks up his towel and the sales sheets he's been memorizing, then heads inside, taking a break from the heat.