Saturday, September 14, 2013
On a Sunday in May 2008, an F-5 tornado struck the town of Parkersburg, Iowa, killing eight people and destroying 250 homes and businesses within 34 seconds. The next day, Parkersburg’s beloved 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,” serving as a galvanizing point for the town to band together and rebuild. But just as Parkersburg was recovering, another devastating tragedy struck. 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. The murder of this hometown hero spread across national news headlines. Ed’s community and family reeled from shock. Yet the story doesn’t end here. What happened next proves that even a double tragedy is no match for faith, love … and the power of forgiveness.
Even if you had never heard of all the tragedy that was faced in this town, it will tug at your heart. It makes you feel some of what we all really feel going through bad times. Having so much faith and passing it on without people even realizing it gave Coach and his family the ability to be such strong leaders of the community. A great lesson is within these pages along with a story of a teacher and football coach who was content to live in a small town and lead young people into adulthood with good work ethics and the thought that you always remember where you came from. A must read for all ages.