Great ideas are unpredictable. They show up at the most peculiar times and places. Apple was born in a garage. Facebook hatched in a Harvard college dormitory. In 1995 Shawn Jenkins sat on his bed and composed an eight-page business manifesto in his journal. Five years later the idea came to life in the form of Benefitfocus.
On April 15, 2013, two bombs exploded on Boylston Street just feet from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The explosion took the lives of three people and injured an estimated 264 others. Dr. Joseph Murphy, a college professor and athletic trainer, was a medical volunteer that day. What he saw changed his life – permanently.
As Becky Patterson rocked her six-month old daughter, Micayla, she began to cry. Through the tears she whispered a prayer: Lord, I want so much more for her. I want her to know you. I want her to walk with you.
Pahokee, the small town on the banks of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, is considered one of the poorest in the United States. Overrun by drugs, crime and poverty, Palm Beach County reports one-half of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have been convicted of a felony. In Pahokee, the average family earns about $34,000 and the unofficial unemployment rate is 40 percent. According to Bryan Mealer, author of the book Muck City, families resort to catching rainwater to survive because their utilities have been cut off. It is a place where depression begets desperation.
Tim Howard is hard to miss – on and off the field. The 6-3, 210-pound goalkeeper for the 2014 FIFA World Cup U.S. national team, sports a full, dark beard, menacing brown eyes, a shaved head and an upper torso littered with tattoos. His first body ink came at 16 years old: a Superman symbol branded on his right bicep. Since then, he’s lost count of just how many tattoos now blanket his upper body, but who’s counting anyway? Let’s just say over the past two decades his frame has become a work of art.
Robert E. Lee Hall towers over the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly campground on Black Mountain, North Carolina. Eight majestic white columns buoy the entrance that is fronted by eight long, wide steps ascending to the wooden platform porch where dozens of green wooden rocking chairs are spread out across the deck.
Draped in red, white and blue, Jordan Burroughs clutched the American flag and scanned the crowd looking for his mother amongst the fans that filled box seats at ExCel Exhibition Centre in London. The moment he spotted her, he jumped the barrier and raced into the crowd. Burroughs and his mother embraced in celebration. At age 24 his dream came true: Jordan Ernest Burroughs was an Olympic gold medal winner.
Maddy Jackson can still smell Ethiopia.
“Every once in a while I catch a whiff and it takes me back; like diesel, donkeys and, believe it or not, body odor,” she said. “It just hits you as soon as you step off the plane.”
A small army of Charleston Southern University students poured out of a van and huddled along a cold, damp street in New York. Behind the hoodies and orange ski caps were rosy noses atop smiling pink and purple lips shivering in the December morning air.