Forgiveness: The Ed Thomas Story

Accountability Community Courage


Ed Thomas was the high school football coach of the Aplington-Parkersburg (Iowa) Falcons. In 2008, Coach Thomas rallied the town of 1800 to overcome a devastating tornado that ripped through the community that June. They played football in the Fall of 2008, against all odds, and went 11 and 1. The Falcons were a conduit for the Aplington-Parkersburg area moving forward to rebuild. Coach Thomas was a key leader in making it happen.

On June 14, 2010 at the ESPY awards, the Thomas family received the Arthur Ashe award for courage. Why? On June 24, 2009, a psychologically disturbed ex-player shot and killed Coach Ed Thomas. This tragedy tore at the fabric of the community. Yet due to the lifetime belief and example of forgiveness set by Ed, the Thomas family led by wife Jan forgave the killer and his family first.  She then used the power of forgiveness to move forward. The entire story is very much worth reading.

In this case ordinary people were dragged into an extraordinary situation. But when you learn about Ed Thomas and family, you realize their faith and belief in forgiveness is extraordinary.

If the Thomas family can forgive a man and his family for the killing of their patriarch, can we forgive under less daunting and extreme cases? I think we can. Forgiving is an act of abundance. It is the total opposite of scarcity.

Now to bring it to the workplace: do we have the ability to forgive transgressions that are not about life or death at work? The obvious answer must be yes.  So, let’s all work to forgive that one person we’ve been mad at. It is normally an uplifting experience for the forgiver and forgiven.    Let’s start now.

And if we want to be inspired about the power of forgiveness, listen to Ed and Jan’s son Aaron Thomas’ acceptance speech at the ESPY Awards. Forgive now. We all win.

Ed Thomas family – first family in the Character Hall of Fame.

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