Not long ago, Lee Steinfeld was a successful Dallas attorney. Not long ago, he represented one of the largest IT companies in the world. And not long ago, he decided to give it all up and just walked away from being a lawyer.
“When I was leaving, they were actually encouraging me, some of them, my co-workers, go follow your dream,” Steinfeld said.
So what could be better than being an attorney? You wouldn’t believe it. Steinfeld quit practicing law to open Pokémon cards.
His YouTube channel, Leonhart, has nearly 600,000 subscribers and his videos often get millions of views, especially when he finds a card that’s incredibly rare.
“I really don’t think too many people can say that they open up Pokémon cards for a living and do it for their full-time job,” he said.
Actually, it’s more like full-time charity.
Steinfeld’s mission, when he joined YouTube, was not to find rare Pokémon, but to give back.
Every year, Steinfeld picks a charity and then asks his followers to donate. They’ve raised money for many important causes, but none more personal than this year.
About 15 years ago, one of Lee’s best friends was one of the most likable guys in school. He was even voted the coolest kid on campus. But not even Lee knew the truth. Because, six months after graduating from high school, Steinfeld’s good friend took his own life.
“I was just in shock, and I just didn’t know what to do,” Steinfeld said. “I feel like if there were more funds, if people took this issue more seriously, it would save thousands and thousands of lives.
So, through YouTube, Lee partnered with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
He wanted to raise $10,000 but didn’t even come close. Not even close.
Lee has raised more money, more than $40,000 to date, than any single fundraiser in the history of NAMI, which could go a long way in making sure mental illness never claims another victim.
“People are genuinely taking more of an interest in wanting to do more and to make an impact in the world,” he said. “And to see that we can save just one life, and I know we have, that’s all the difference.”
And perhaps one day, even more than his cards, those kinds of tragedies will be incredibly rare.