Virtue of the Week: Thankfulness

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.Gerald Good

Coach Traeger had a simple way to begin turning the hearts of his football players into grateful, appreciative young men. It started with 2 questions; “What’s the name of the school janitor? What is the name of the school cook?” He set a stack of thank you notes on the table and encouraged the boys to write 10 thank you notes to 10 people in their lives. Challenging them to think of those who are least likely to be thanked. This action had a tremendous effect on the boys and every person in their life who received a handwritten thank you note. The janitor took note!

Hand written thank you notes were one of Randy’s most appreciated treasures. I recall meeting up for breakfast with Coach Traeger one January morning. With tears welling up in his eyes he said “God sent me a very special Christmas present this year. A young man that I coached ten years ago wrote me a letter out of the blue.” This thank you letter was so dear to coach as the young man explained how Randy’s life lessons through Virtue First changed his life. He was abandoned and living in a car in CA when he was sent to live with his Aunt in Mt. Angel. He was given to coach as a new player on his football team. He lacked in all interior strength and self-esteem. He learned a new way to be a man as he was shown compassion, charity, mentoring and self-discipline under Randy’s coaching. In the letter he went on to thank Randy as he didn’t believe he would be capable of the things he is now doing….. being a husband, a father and a coach to a high school football team. He is using the virtue first program and hoping to inspire his players as coach inspired him.

Randy held onto these letters. Here is an excerpt from another note written by a thankful mother:

“One day after practice my son came to the car with food once again. I asked him where he got it, and he said, “from coach Randy, because he loves me.” I asked him how he knew that and he said, “because he told me.” Yes, there were tears in my eyes AGAIN. I am forever indebted for the compassion that you have shown my son. He came to you a very troubled boy, and leaves a respectable young man. What is most amazing is that my son isn’t special, and he isn’t the only boy on this team who feels as if he IS special. But he felt it every day on and off the field. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!”

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.Albert Schweitzer