Devout Faith, Love of Family and Strength of Character Have Seen Him Through the Best of Times — and the Very Worst of Times
Aaron Kampman remembers vividly the moment a few years ago when he received the shocking news that his high school coach, Ed Thomas, had just been fatally shot. The event was inconceivable to nearly everyone affected by it. As Aaron explains, “Parkersburg, Iowa is a town of 1800 people. Things like this just don’t happen there.”
The tragedy of losing his friend and mentor – a man who generated four professional football players from a tiny Midwest high school — cemented in Aaron’s mind the powerful lessons that Coach Thomas had taught him over the years, lessons reinforced by his solid Christian upbringing in a two-parent home. “One of the great lessons that Ed taught was that when adversity strikes, it’s not at that moment that you develop the capacity to handle it. Your character is cultivated over time, so that when adversity does strike, you have the ability to handle it with grace, dignity, and perseverance. It doesn’t take away the pain but it gives you the ability to manage it.”
Growing up as the second of three boys, Aaron believed his childhood was typical. “I grew up in a small rural town in Iowa. It was a great way to grow up. But it was also a little bit of a bubble. When I got to college, I first realized the blessing of coming from a two-parent home.”
Not only the closeness of his family but also the model his parents put forth regarding community service had a powerful influence on Aaron as he was growing up. “My dad owns a lumberyard. My mom is a registered nurse who works for the county and travels around and takes care of people, particularly elderly people. So from a very young age I saw both of my parents demonstrate an ideal of service and a work ethic that became deeply ingrained in me.”
During their eight years in Green Bay, Aaron and his wife were deeply entrenched in the community, volunteering frequently for charities, food pantries and fundraisers. His prodigious generosity has not gone unnoticed in the athletic community. In 2003, he was Packers finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. He was named one of the NFL’s “Good Guys” by The Sporting News and received the “Nice Guy Award” at the 2004 Doug Jirschele Sports Award Banquet in Clintonville, Wisconsin.
His Christian faith has also led this two-time Pro Bowl selection into a series of missions overseas. He and his wife traveled to Mannheim, a military community in southwestern Germany, with the Christian organization Unlimited Potential Incorporated to share their faith with U.S. troops stationed there. In 2007 the couple took a two-week tour of India as guests of Gospel for Asia. Two years later their destination was Kenya, where they visited Christian humanitarian missions in rural communities.
Even as he devotes his time and energy to aiding the impoverished, Aaron never overlooks the importance of his local fan base. After signing with the Jaguars, he paid for a large ad in Green Bay area newspapers to thank residents for their support. He was a tireless role model to his team members and other football players. He notably used the misfortune of an injury at the end of the 2009 season to demonstrate the difference a good attitude can make.
Observing the actions of the late Coach Thomas’ family in the year since his death has cemented Aaron’s belief in the strength to be derived from faith and community. “Joy, I believe, is something that is deep seated in your heart and gives you the eternal perspective that no matter what happens in this life, it’s okay. It’s an ability to see beyond the present circumstances.” Thomas’ sense of character had a ripple effect that would reach more than just his football team. Recently his widow and sons accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, presented at ESPN’s ESPY Award Ceremony. Thomas’ wife and sons have founded the Ed Thomas Family Foundation in partnership with the National Christian Foundation to benefit those causes that Coach Thomas’ family believes will extend his influence and honor his priorities of faith, family, character and integrity. Aaron serves as a board member for the Foundation.
His Christian faith and insistence on living out his ideals, as well as his unflagging charitable outreach and respect for his fans and fellow humankind, makes Aaron Kampman an Insightful Player® team member worth emulating.
Instant replay of Aaron’s guiding principles:
- Never lose sight of your faith in God. Your relationship with Christ should be the compass that guides you through life.
- Take time to seek out silence and stillness. These moments are what help you to build inner character strength and foster your spiritual growth.
- Embody your principles in how you treat others: your family members, your community, your team members, and the less fortunate to whom you minister.
- Be an integral part of your community. Reach out to others, and stand in for anyone who needs a role model or a source of emotional support.
- Recognize the opportunities you have been given, whether they are great or small.
- Leverage your advantages – physical strength, spiritual awareness, the love of family and friends, or whatever you have been given – while finding ways to overcome your weaknesses.
- In times of greatest crisis, remember you are not alone.
- Understand the difference between happiness and joy: happiness is the pleasure that come from positive circumstances, but joy is rooted in the knowledge that God is in control, even in the face of adversity.
- Follow the spiritual imperative to forgive those who have wronged you or others.
- Let your deeds and actions ceaselessly reflect your most dearly held principles.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.
©2010 Insightful Player, LLC
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