How far would you go to help one of your coworkers?
For Bernie Marcus, the co-founder and former CEO of Home Depot, the answer is: farther than most would ever imagine.
In the 1980s, Marcus had a personal accountant whose 4-year-old son had autism. What started as a simple desire to help her developed into a 30-year campaign to improve the resources available to kids with autism and their families. Today the Marcus Autism Center is one of the world’s leading institutions for autism research and treatment..
In this episode, you’ll hear about the incredible personal philosophy that drove Marcus to build the Marcus Autism Center and go so far as to commit more than $100 million of his own money to the cause. All told, Bernie and his wife Billi, through the Marcus Foundation, have donated more than $1 billion to address some of the nation’s most pressing health issues, including stem cell research, spinal cord issues and brain injuries.
But while he’s a man who’s donated richly, Marcus didn’t come from a background of wealth. In this show he also shares how he grew up poor in Newark, New Jersey and worked until his 50s before he reached his big breakthrough. He also offers insight into his personal ethical code—the one that made sure that, when he did find success, he was going to share it with others, especially the people who’d helped him succeed.
Some people are strong. Some are tough. Some seem unstoppable. And then there’s Travis Mills of the Travis Mills Foundation, who will redefine all of those words for you.
He’ll tell you that he’s like anyone else. He just had a bad day at work.
But Mills’s job at the time was Staff Sergeant for the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. And that bad day—April 10, 2012—took away both his arms and his legs.
Today Mills is a quadruple amputee—one of five U.S. servicemen to lose all of his limbs to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But ask and he’ll tell you that he doesn’t consider himself a wounded warrior. Why?
“I’m not wounded,” Mills says.
Instead, Mills considers himself a “recalibrated warrior” — one who’s defied all odds and surpassed every expectation on his road to recovery. He taught himself how to walk, then run, then do an incredible number of other things you might not expect: swim, fish, and do CrossFit. He completed his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center in about half the time doctors thought it would take. Along the way, he made lifting the spirits of other injured veterans his new mission.
“I met everybody there. I was one of the first people they got to talk to when they got to the hospital,” Mills says. “I think that was impactful because, at Walter Reed, the worst amputation you're going to see is me.
"So here’s a guy with no arms and legs who either rolls or walks into your room and is like, ‘Hey, man. What's up? How's life treating you? You're in a great spot, you're going to get better, and I can't wait to see you down there. We'll work out together one day.’ It really is uplifting.Aa lot of the guys were really thankful for that.”
Today Mills is a speaker, an author, an actor, and the head of a foundation that’s helping other critically injured vets recalibrate their own lives, the Travis Mills Foundation. This year the foundation opened a beautiful wooded retreat in Central Maine where soldiers who’ve lost limbs can spend a week with their families free of charge.
“And I can tell you right now, I'm the president [of the foundation] and I have six other wonderful board members -- we're never going to pay ourselves,” Mills says. “We don't take a dime for this, and all the money raised goes towards the project, it goes towards the Travis Mills Foundation, and the retreat, and bringing the families up so the families don't have any cost when they get up here.”
The retreat is already earning incredible praise from the servicemen and women that it’s served. And it’s going the extra mile to help even more. Initially scheduled to stay open only through the end of October, the retreat extended its inaugural season in order to help military families displaced by the Hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
In this episode, you’ll find out how Travis survived his terrible injuries, who inspired him to take on an excruciating recovery, and how he learned to walk again with some help from his young daughter, Chloe. You’ll also learn how a past guest on Crazy Good Turns, The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, helped Travis, his wife, Kelsey, and Chloe, get back to a more normal life. And you’ll hear one inspiring, incredible quote after another from a man who is truly unstoppable.