Dave Pelzer was the second of five boys, born on 29 December, 1960, in San Francisco, California. During his childhood, Dave suffered through traumatic experiences of child abuse which included both physical and mental torture, along with being deprived of food to the point of near starvation. His mother, who was emotionally unstable and addicted to alcohol, subjected him to brutal beatings and played cruel games that left him on the brink of death. Dave was no longer considered a son by his mother but rather a slave, and was no longer referred to as a boy but rather an “It.”
Dave was one of the most seriously abused kids in California history when he was found after being saved. Dave’s instructors risked their jobs when he was 12 years old in order to alert the authorities and save his life. Dave battles for a secure environment after entering the foster care system, but he ends up moving between five different homes while still struggling to deal with his past. Social workers, teachers, counselors, and foster parents put their all into protecting Dave from his vengeful mother, who at one point wants to commit him to a mental institution, throughout his trip.
At the age of 18, Dave abandoned the foster care system and enlisted in the American Air Force. Dave was a young adult who was committed to improving himself despite all obstacles.
Dave was chosen specifically for his military experience to mid-air refuel the F-117 Stealth Fighter and the incredibly covert SR-71 Blackbird, both of which were crucial to the success of Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield, and Desert Storm.
A number of awards, as well as private compliments from Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, have acknowledged some of Dave’s outstanding achievements. He was named the California Volunteer of the Year in 1990 after receiving the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award. Dave received recognition as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans in 1993. He joins a distinguished collection of former students that includes Nelson Rockefeller, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Anne Bancroft, Orson Welles, and Walt Disney. Dave was the only American to receive this distinction as one of The Outstanding Young People of the World in 1994. For the 1996 Olympics, he also bore the coveted Centennial flame.
A Child Called “It,” Dave’s debut novel, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It recounts his childhood experience. The first author to have two novels simultaneously on this list in trade paperback, Dave is one of the few authors to have three books on the New York Times Best Sellers List at once. Each of the three works has received widespread praise. The Montel Williams Show, Sally Jesse, and Barbara Walter’s The View all highlighted Dave’s amazing life story.
Dave’s unique and intriguing outlook on life, coupled with his “Robin Williams” like wit and sense of humor entertain and encourage men and women to overcome any obstacle while living life to its fullest. Dave is a living testament of resilience, faith in humanity, and personal responsibility. This is what makes him one of the most exceptional and unequaled entities of today. As an author, educator, and consultant, Dave has dedicated his life helping others . . . to help themselves.