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That Special Spark!

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the value of ‘INSPIRATION’ and how it is especially important for our youth.

Inspiration is that special spark. That certain something, deep inside that motivates us to move forward an accomplish great things. It’s a burning desire coupled with a noble purpose. It’s what drives us to achieve something greater than ourselves. It is especially compelling when the inspiration causes us to confront, and then overcome, adversity.

With this in mind, I’d love to share a story – about inspiration and encouragement. Taking you back to 1993. An 8 year old boy from a mixed-race family and humble beginnings in the town of Stevenage, England, located about 2 hours north of central London, asked his dad if he could start riding dirt bikes competitively after winning the national RC car championship against adults more than 4 times his age. Concerned that dirt bikes might be too dangerous, but not wanting to discourage his young son's ambition, they compromised on four wheels instead of two, and his dad bought his son a used go-kart. After his first competitive race, it was clear to the father that his son not only had innate talent but a will to succeed and told him that as long as he did well in school, he would support his carting aspirations.

Carting though was reserved for mostly white families with the means to support such an expensive sport. As a result, the father and son experienced much adversity both on and off the track. The son was regularly bullied, and often told he would never make it as a driver, meanwhile the dad had to take up four jobs at one point just to help pay for new parts and a new kart. Yet, they remained persistent, used the adversity they faced as motivation, and eventually, it paid off. Only two years after his first race, the son went on to be youngest winner of the British Karting Championship at the age of 10 and at 13, was signed to the McLaren Young Drivers program, where he’d go on to win the European and World Karting Championships. As a young man, he was promoted to drive for the famed McLaren Formula 1 team, where he would win his first ever Formula 1 World Championship. And this past weekend, 27 years after his dad bought him his first go kart, he won his 7th world title, equaling the world record set by one of the greatest of all time, Michael Schumacher. The name of this young man if you haven’t guessed it by now, is Lewis Hamilton.

Perhaps you’re not familiar with Formula 1, or maybe you’re not a fan of racing or sports at all. If we look beyond sports, however, the story of Lewis Hamilton is one of a young man who faced every obstacle on his way to becoming one of the best at what he does, because he believed in his own ability to achieve. It’s an inspiring, real-life reminder to all of us about what is possible when we never give up on ourselves and what we aspire to achieve. Each of us will face obstacles in our lives, some that may seem impossible to overcome. And oftentimes, we compromise on our aspirations when we face adversity. This is due in part to a feeling that what we want is too far out of reach, or is too ambitious, when really, it’s just part of the journey. What makes the difference is how we choose to move forward. Will you doubt yourself, or remain steadfast? Sure, we may get push-back, told we’re wrong, or even told we should quit. Yet in the pursuit of our own ambitions, it’s important we see challenges not as dead ends, but as opportunities to inspire ourselves to become better, to learn and grow, and to never stop moving forward, just as Lewis did on his way to becoming a champion.

Salute our Vets and Get Inspired

While I was waiting for an appointment the other day, I picked up a November 2019 edition of People Magazine. This edition featured seven amazing stories on veterans. And, each story gives inspiration – highlighting the sacrifice and service of those brave men and women who wear the uniform and protect our rights and freedoms. And, even a couple heartwarming stories about dogs.

Of course, you may remember Sully, a service dog for the late President George H. W. Bush, aka ‘41.’ But, following the death of this president, they didn’t retire Sully. He went back into service and today can be found assisting servicemen and women at Walter Reed. I reference this story not only because it’s inspiring, but also because it segues perfectly to talk about a Navy SEAL who created a nonprofit to help military and police dogs.

You would think that tours in Afghanistan and Special Ops missions to rescue people in lands far away would be service enough for anyone. And, not surprisingly the psychological side effects can often be traumatic. This was the experience of one Navy SEAL, James Hatch. Thankfully, James got relief with a special form of cognitive behavioral therapy and as a consequence has gone on to help others. In the fall of 2014, he created a nonprofit to provide police and military dogs in military service with protective gear. Today, this nonprofit known as ‘Spikes Canine Fund’ has helped nearly 1,200 dogs and is making a difference every single day.

I invite you to read these amazing stories I found and be inspired like I was.

I was so inspired by the stories that I went home later that evening and looked back on all the great things so many people in New Hampshire have done and are continuing to do for our veterans. Even this week, my good friends Jeff Chidester and Justin McIsaac along with Ginger Monson took control of the airwaves to partner with businesses and community members from across New Hampshire to support Veterans Count on the iHeart Media Radio Telethon. Truly inspiring!

Newport Tigers Win State Championship

This week I have to give a shout out to the Newport Tigers Football team who took the New Hampshire Division IV title this year! As a former Newport Tiger football player myself, I’m thrilled to see such a great success for my small hometown. Not only did the Tigers win the State Championship but it wasn’t close. They had a 42-0 victory!

I have written before about the importance of high school sports and athletes in a small town. We know that victories like these are a focal point for building community, cohesion and a winning spirit. It gives neighbors as well as strangers a common cause to rally around and creates a town spirit that is much bigger than the game itself. The game builds character for the players and instills a sense of both pride and accomplishment for young athletes.

I remember being a football player for Newport High School many years ago. Working hard to compete, to play to my very highest potential and to be inspired. Both to achieve my personal best – but also to inspire others on the team for us all to do our very best as a close knit, cohesive team of athletes. For me, this was a truly transformative experience. I am delighted that this generation of Newport Tigers is having that same opportunity and experience. I look forward to many, many, many more wins for this fantastic team and town! Go Tigers!

Positive Profile of the Week: Janet Stevens

We are so very excited – and inspired - to highlight this week, our newly elected Executive Councilor, Janet Stevens. Janet brings energy, a fresh perspective and new ideas to this office – one of the most powerful, yet not well known, positions in the State of New Hampshire. As one of only five Executive Councilors in the State, Janet will exercise a great deal of authority, weighing in on executive expenditures and all gubernatorial appointments.

Importantly, Janet will continue the hard work done by those who have come before her, including my close friend, Ruth Griffin of Portsmouth, a truly legendary New Hampshire public servant. In fact, recently, it was a great honor to welcome Janet into our home where we hosted an event, attended not only by Governor Chris Sununu, but also former Councilor Ruth Griffin.

Janet won an overwhelming victory on November 3rd. As a first-time candidate, she defied the odds, winning a highly competitive primary and then coasted to victory in the general election. With nearly thirty years of small business experience and a family in the healthcare industry, Janet brings knowledge, expertise and a truly inspirational work ethic to her new role.

You can tell her passion is to help people. During the early days of the COVID epidemic, Janet was a true leader – taking action to help people in need get the services they deserve. As a member of the Board of Mental Health, she ensured access to providers and did an outstanding job of enabling assistance. She helped minority owned small businesses secure critical PPE funding, as she put her own campaign on hold to ensure that her fellow Granite Stater’s got the care and support they needed. But her commitment to the community doesn’t end there.

Both Janet and her husband, Bob, who is a doctor and with a practice in radiology, give back every single day. From serving on the boards of nonprofits to raising money for causes to benefit veterans and our at-risk youth, you can rest assured that they are working every day to make a difference.

Karen and I first got to know Janet a few Years back when she came to one of our support events for Children of Fallen Patriots. We have been so inspired by Janet’s willingness to give back. We are delighted to call her our friend and our Executive Councilor. Great things ahead for Janet and for the people of New Hampshire!

Quotes of the Week: Inspiration

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”

Walt Whitman

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Norman Vincent Peale

“Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Francis of Assisi

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Robin Williams


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