John Mann
Executive Associate 
The Center for Appreciative 
​Organizing in Education
Donel Bisesi, my golf coach at Martinsville High School in Indiana, was my personal hero. He died last month . I was saddened, but I realized that he had been fighting a long battle against cancer. When we think about those who have been so influential in our lives, we need to reach out to them. We all recognize that reaching out and doing a nice thing for others is important, but sometimes we do not know how important our small act of kindness might be.

I was working with my wife to clean out the garage and ran across some memorabilia from my childhood. We found some junior high and high school clippings, pictures, yearbooks, and report cards that my father had kept over the years. I work hard at being an upbeat and positive person, but after breathing the dust and going down memory lane, I was feeling more than a little melancholy when we sat down to dinner. I told my wife that junior high was not a very positive time for me at school or at home. I sat there and thought about what had made the difference between my junior high and high school experiences, because my home situation for several of those years had been the same. I realized that it was not one of my academic teachers, but my golf coach, who had made the difference.  
I was an inexperienced freshman in whom the coach saw potential. Coach Bisesi was my personal hero who, through his time and dedication, changed the next four years of my life. I sent him a letter and shared how much he meant to me. The letter traveled from Florida to Indiana and back to Florida where Coach Bisesi was wintering and going through radiation treatment. He gave me a call on the day he received the letter to tell me he read it over and over again.
I shared this story in the book A Positive Manifesto. As soon as the book was published I signed a copy with a personal message and sent it to Coach Bisesi’s home. I never heard from him again, but I did hear from his wife. She called to tell me that he was very weak and was going into hospice care. She called on the day he passed to tell me he showed the book and the message to every person who came into his room the last few days of his life and made them read what I had written about him.
When we reach out to express gratitude, we never know how important it will be in the recipient’s life. I really cannot grasp the positive effects of such a small act, because good actions are magnified beyond what we can imagine and in ways we could never dream. Find and thank the Donel Bisesis in your life. 

To my personal hero, coach, and friend, Donel Bisesi, may you rest in peace. You will never be forgotten for your kindness and hopefulness