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Aaron Thomas    

2010 Arthur Ashe Courage Award Recipient, ESPN ESPY Awards.

Aaron Thomas learned some valuable life lessons from his father. It was those lessons that helped him deal with the tragedy that befell his family in the summer of 2009. When his father was fatally shot by one of his former football players, Thomas drew on the strength and power of Ed Thomas' teachings. He realized that each of us truly can make a difference in the world, that we must live each day with passion for what we do, and that the greatest gift we have is the power to choose.

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 these values into action when he was the community leader who inspired his town to rebuild in the wake of a deadly EF 5 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 Ed Thomas.

Following his father’s murder Thomas was approached to return home to take over his father’s responsibilities as athletic director at Aplington-Parkersburg High School and continue the legacy his father had built in being not only a school leader but an example for the town to follow. Settled comfortably in another community with a promising administrative position in the school district, Thomas, his spouse, and children made the choice to move back to Parkersburg and did so within one month of the murder.

Rather than shun the family of their father's murderer and perpetuate the tragedy that Parkersburg faced, Thomas and his family called upon the teachings of their father made an appeal to the community for understanding and forgiveness.

In this incredible story of ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation, Thomas shares his family's journey of showing uncommon strength during the darkest of times. Picking up the mantle of his father and continuing the lessons and message taught to many young people by his father. Today, he continues to serve as athletic director for Aplington-Parkersburg High School and is the head coach for boys’ basketball and assistant coach for football. He and his family are the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage presented at the 2010 ESPY Awards, and Aaron received the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference most courageous award for being the people Ed Thomas would have expected. Along with his family and the help of author Mark Tabb, Thomas writes about his father and the lessons he taught him in his book, The Sacred Acre: The Ed Thomas Story (August 2011).

Speech Topics

My Family’s Story: Courage, Passion and Overcoming the Odds

When life puts you to the ultimate test, how will you react? So was the question posed to Aaron Thomas and his family of a small town in Iowa when their father, a much-loved coach and pillar of the community who helped his town recover in the wake of a deadly tornado, was killed at the hands of a mentally ill former player. The personification of courage, Thomas and his family found the strength to immediately extend grace and kindness to the family of the man who murdered his father. In this moving, powerful presentation, Aaron Thomas shares his family’s story and shows audiences how to deal with adversity, set important goals and live a meaningful life of passion. Imparting the lessons of his father and lessons from his own career inspiring young people, Thomas challenges organizations to think through what they must do to stand out, be the best in their field and define—and exemplify—the true value they provide to their members, customers and employees. Thomas’ journey is one of faith, courage, remembering where you came from, always doing the right thing and embracing the values that reflect the very best of the human spirit.


Aaron Thomas to speak at WHS

Mar 26, 2014 ... Aaron Thomas of Aplington-Parkersburg will speak to Washington High ... As speaker for his family at the ESPY Awards, Aaron received ...

Keynote Speaker Aaron Thomas

Aaron Thomas' father Ed was a beloved high school ... presented at the 2010 ESPY Awards. Aaron ...

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