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5 Ordinary People Who Made an Extraordinary Impact

Updated on October 24, 2013


This hub is dedicated to five modern day heroes. Included in the five are my mother and father; a long-time acquaintenance; an American storyteller I met in Thailand; and Carrie Prejean, Miss California 2009.

Connie Sackett - My Mother

My mother with her husband, children and grandchildren.
My mother with her husband, children and grandchildren.

My Mother Connie Sackett

My first modern day hero is my mother Connie Sackett. She has always been by my side in thick and thin and gives without reservation. In 1986 she gave up a six figure income because the owner of the company was engaging in unethical practices. Following her retirement, she has volunteered with the foster care organization Olive Crest; served as committee member and director of the City of Orange YWCA; a patriotic organization called the Freedom Foundation; and in the last five years cared for her ailing husband.

Felix Coggins - My Father

Winning in the Face of Adversity

 My father Felix Coggins grew up in a broken home in which he was raised by a single Hispanic mother.  In 1960 he went to work for a company that sold commercial dishwashing products.  In 1969 he was promoted to be the manager of his store.  Soon he was tabbed to be the next president of the company. In the mid 1980's he became a vice-president of the company and moved to Memphis, Tennessee. When it came time to replace the president, the board of directors decided to hire a different person.  Two years later the new director of the organization asked my father to leave.  He would only give him a severance package if my father promised to sign a letter of no compete. After signing the new agreement my father had to find a new line of work.  He eventually took a commission only job selling office cubicles.  Eight months after starting the new job he was $8000 in debt to the new company, but my father never stopped working as planned. Finally after many months of hitting the pavement, he made a major sale and now he has been working for the company for 12 years and making a six figure income. He is the picture of planning and persistence.


John Walsh, Christian Storyteller

He Chose Not to Believe the Naysayers

 When he was a young boy, John Walsh was much bigger than everybody else.  Unfortunately he had an undiscovered learning disability.  His teachers just thought that he was big and slow.  In order not to embarrass him, he was passed on from grade to grade even though he could not read or write very well. He even though John was functionally illiterate this big young man loves stories.  One day he chose to write his own story.  He wrote a story about Buddy was top dog.  His sister loved the story.  The next day with pride in his heart John showed the story to his fifth grade teacher.  His teacher took a look at the story, look back at John, and then read the story again.  Knowing that john was functionally illiterate, she asked him who wrote the story.  John answered that he did.  The teacher did not believe him.  She read it again and as John who really wrote the story.  Stuttering from fear, the young man again confessed that he had written the fable.  His teacher rolled her eyes, said whatever, and shove them back to his seat.  John was devastated.  Year by year John's teachers continue to pass him on even though he still did not know how to read or write. 

When John reached high school, he was still considered dumb and slow. Even so, John received a vision that he should go to college.  John did not have any ability to go to college.  Yet he thought no one in his family had ever gone to college so he was going to be the first one.  Sometime in high school someone in the school found out that John had a learning disability.  John finally figured out how to study for his classes.  The way he had to study was to read one book of that time one page at a time. The young Walsh would pick a book off the shelf, read the first paragraph of the first page three times, then read the second paragraph three times, then read the first and second paragraphs again three times, read the last paragraph of the page three times and then read the whole page three times again.  In this manner, John would read every one of his textbooks.  By the time John was done with the textbook, he had practically memorized the whole book.  In the end John did graduate from college and became a teacher in his own right.  And now John Walsh is a world-class story teller.  He travels the world telling stories to kids and adults alike and teaching other people how to write and tell stories.

John is a hero because he chose not to believe the naysayers or to become trapped by his past failures to live up to other people's expectations.  He overcame the odds and became the best person he could become.

Fred Newkirk

Angel in The Inner City

For over 40 years, Fred Newkirk has sacrificed his heart and soul to save the harassed and helpless in the Inner City of Long Beach, California. During that time he has worked with the hardest of hard gangbangers and drug offenders, attempting to mentor them into the mainstream of society. In that time he has endured misunderstanding by whites and blacks alike. Still, he has poured out his life to lift up what the The Long Beach Press-Telegram called "Maggots from Hell." Fred could have left the outreach many years ago for a safer ministry anywhere in the country, but to this day he continues to lay down his life for the homeless and friendless.

Carrie Prejean

Gave Up the Crown to Be True to Her Beliefs

Miss California 2009 Carrie Prejean arrives in this place because she stood by her beliefs even though it may have cost her the Miss America crown. What courage it had to take for her to stay true to herself in such a pressure packed moment. This is not an endorsement of her answer but rather ten thumbs up for not abandoning her values for the sake of a temporal reward. Too many of us compromise our values for instant gratification.


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      Connie Sackett 8 years ago

      Dear Eric: Your father called me to let me know about your Modern Day Marvels. I am very touched by your thoughts and words. As parents you always wonder if you did the "right" or necessary things to raise your children as God would have you do. I take this as an affirmation that you must think we did our best with what knowledge and life experience we had. Not that we always did everything perfectly but our children, their spouses and our wonderful grandchildren are more than we could have ever wanted or hoped for. I hope we continue to live up to your confidence in us as you continue to amaze us with your depth of love and care for others.