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Living as a "True Difference-Maker"

Aaron Thomas’ father, Ed, was a beloved high school football coach who not only trained generations of players on the importance of hard work, dedication, excellence, and commitment but personally put those values into action as the community leader who inspired his town to rebuild in the wake of a deadly EF5 tornado. Not long after the community withstood the disaster of the storm, the small town of Parkersburg, Iowa endured a far worse tragedy…the fatal shooting of Coach Ed Thomas by a former player with mental issues.

Following his father’s murder, Aaron was approached to return home to take over Ed’s responsibilities as athletic director and to continue the legacy his father had built in being not only a school leader, but in being an example for the town to follow. Aaron, his wife Ellie, and their three sons moved back to Parkersburg one month after his father was murdered.

Rather than shun the family of their father’s murderer and perpetuate the tragedy Parkersburg faced, Aaron and his family called for understanding and forgiveness, because that’s what Ed Thomas would have wanted them to do.

In this incredible story of ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation, Aaron Thomas shares his family’s journey of showing uncommon strength during the darkest of times. Aaron will discuss how to deal with adversity and how to make the most of all opportunities. You will be challenged to look at your life, your family, and your organization to see if you are being a true difference-maker. He and his family are the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage presented at the 2010 ESPY Awards, for being the people Ed Thomas would have expected. Aaron also received the Missouri Valley Conference 2010 Most Courageous Award.

Aaron has spoken from coast-to-coast, sharing his story with college, high school and middle school students, along with a variety of businesses, associations, organizations, and churches. His talk is centered around the life lessons his father taught him and others-emphasizing that the greatest gift any of us has been given is the power to choose, that each of us has the ability, the right, and the privilege to live each day with passion for what we do, and how each of us can truly make a difference in the world.

“The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story”
Aaron’s talk resonates deeply with all types of audiences, whether they be corporations, associations, fundraisers or faith-based events. He also speaks to teachers, along with college, high school and middle school students. The “difference” in Aaron’s talk is that there isn’t an audience in the country that wouldn’t benefit greatly from hearing this inspiring story.

The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story
After a tornado struck the town of Parkersburg, Iowa, killing eight people and destroying 250 homes and businesses, football coach, Ed Thomas, made a stunning prediction: “God willing, we will play our first home game here on this field this season.” One hundred days later, the home team scored a victory on the field they dubbed “The Sacred Acre. But just as Parkersburg was recovering, while working with a group of football and volleyball players early one morning, one of Ed’s former students walked in and gunned him down point-blank. Ed Thomas was 58. What happened next proves that even a double tragedy is no match for faith, love…and the power of forgiveness. Buy here

“Aaron Thomas blew our teammates away! We were lucky enough to have Aaron speak at three young professional events and the response was outstanding! His message is extremely powerful…one we can all relate to! If you book Aaron, you will NOT be disappointed! The MSB team and Aaron were fantastic to work with, and we look forward to working with them again!”
Alexis Maust, Retail Support Specialist, Farm Credit Services of America

“I just wanted to let you know that I received numerous excellent comments on Aaron Thomas’ presentation! The theme of his talk was used and repeated by many of the speakers throughout the conference. It was a great message and we certainly enjoyed it. It is exactly what we wanted to accomplish with our keynote speaker!”
LeRoy Janssen, Meeting Coordinator, Nebraska Association of County Officials

“Aaron Thomas was the motivational speaker at our annual conference. The feedback from everyone attending the conference was very positive. He touched all of us when relating how he and his family dealt with loss, grief, violence and adversity. He took this to the next level when sharing how to move forward in life with a positive outlook.”
Mary Jo Ungry, Chat Mobility

“Aaron Thomas’ presentation is one that companies, organizations, educators and youth all can benefit from. Aaron clearly demonstrates the passion and good nature of the late Ed Thomas and will leave your guests feeling empowered to take pride in their community and lead by example. A wonderful storyteller, Aaron truly cares about making a difference in other’s lives and will definitely impact yours with his amazing story of courage and overcoming adversity.”
Hilary Dunn, Ankeny, Iowa Area Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator

“I just wanted to let you know your talk was wonderful tonight here in Rochester, MN. Today you spoke at Lourdes High School and made such an impression on my 17-year-old daughter, Becca, that she came home after track practice and showed me the video of your dad’s story. I came to hear you speak tonight because she told me I really had to hear you. You mentioned wondering if you are making an impact on people’s lives like your father did. I just wanted to let you know you ARE! My daughter was so moved by your talk and wished she had talked to you afterward. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to tell you this in person tonight. I am very emotional and would have lost it talking to you. I hope you realize the great things you are doing, especially to have such an impact on my daughter. THANK YOU…I look forward to reading your Dad’s book.”
Vicki Brennan

“Aaron Thomas spoke on our campus to an audience of students, staff and community members. Making arrangements with Aaron and MidAmerica Speakers Bureau was very easy. The MSB staff communicated quickly about the details of his visit and Aaron was very personable and gracious when talking with our students.”

Additional comments from audience members included:
‘In my opinion, Aaron was the most relatable speaker we’ve had to date. His story was inspiring, the story was close to ‘home’, and it was relevant to all who attended.’

‘I love how he inspired me to be better in every aspect of my life. I left the event feeling motivated to not only be better in my own life, but in the lives of those around me.’

‘Excellent message for our students…very engaging, very positive.’

I highly recommend Aaron Thomas as a speaker for your next event.”
Tim Borchers, VP for Academic Affairs, Peru State College

“Aaron Thomas is one of the best speakers I have ever heard…top 5 for sure. Totally impressed … wish he had been on the main stage the last day with clients in the room!!”
“Aaron Thomas was outstanding…what a heart touching story & the reason I am in this business.”
“Aaron Thomas was the best part of the entire forum!”
“There is no question that Aaron Thomas’ story was incredible!
“Aaron was fabulous!”
“Aaron’s presentation was engaging and inspirational!”
“Aaron Thomas delivered a great message on attitude in a very powerful delivery!”

Comments from the Nebraska Insurance Leaders Forum

Parkersburg, Iowa

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