History itself is full of their successes. Millions of people have derived benefit from the Christ, as well as those who have found peace.
The Buddha lived 2,500 years ago, and today there are thousands of stupors, pagoda's, etc in his honour. Martin Luther King and many great civil rights movement ambassadors have inspired millions all over the globe.
Do you see the reviews that Mandela is getting? or Mother Theresa got? Role models invoke in us the spirit of joy, of goodness and of hope. They serve as inspiration to push us forward and get us up when all is seemingly lost. I know a man who when he experiences problems, looks at the picture of his favourite older friend, and then he feels inspired to make the effort.
We are affected by old ladies on TV, or a cause such as Poppy Day or Bill Gates and his foundation. I could go on. So yes, role models do help us and show us the way to inner happiness, equanimity and content. It is a necessary role done effortlessly by true role models without even thinking about this.