H.E.P. Man of the month – Ed Thomas
Ed Thomas (July 17, 1950 – June 24, 2009) was the high school football coach for Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Iowa. Thomas had coached 37 years of Aplington-Parkersburg Falcon football and won two state titles and a total of 292 games.
He is credited with having coached four current NFL players, which is the most per capita of any high school in the nation. In 2005, Thomas won the prestigious NFL High School Coach of the Year award. He is known for his actions due to the tornado that hit his city. He told everyone on his team to tough up, and they fixed their football stadium before their opening day game. They won their first game and went 11 -1 that season.
In June of 2009, as the football team was preparing for the upcoming season, former player Mark Becker who was suffering from schizophrenia attacked football coach of Aplington-Parkersburg High School, Ed Thomas, in the locker room. He shot Ed Thomas 7 times. Ed Thomas was taken to the hospital, but he couldn’t survive the fatal attack of Mark Becker.
On March 2, 2010, Mark Becker was given life sentence for the conviction of first-degree murder. The Thomas family decided to forgive the Becker family, keeping in mind that the Becker family was not to be blamed for their son’s action.
On 14th July, at the ESPY Awards 2010, the family of Ed Thomas received Arthur Ashe Courage Award in the appreciation of the display of their mercy for the Mark Becker family.
It was simply an honor of Ed Thomas family to receive an Arthur Ashe Courage Award, as the previous award holders include popular personalities like Nelson Mandela, Pat Tillman and Muhammad Ali. They got this award because they were showing the same characteristics that Ed Thomas represented: Family; Community and Religion.
It was a tough thing to forgive someone who killed Ed Thomas, but the family showed great courage in doing so. On the award ceremony, Ed Thomas’ wife and his two sons received the award and Mark Becker’s family was also there to applaud for their act of mercy.
This is a great story about compassion and forgiveness. We all can learn from this amazing family which could bring itself to forgive their father’s killer in this day and age of so much hatred and revenge.
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