Good Leaders: when was the last time you met a bona fide hero?

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Anderson Cooper awarded Chad Pregracke the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Award - we're thrilled to have Chad speak this week at the Good Leadership Breakfast.

Anderson Cooper awarded Chad Pregracke the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Award – we’re thrilled to have Chad speak this week at the Good Leadership Breakfast.

What was the first thing Chad Pregracke did with the $250,000 he earned when he won the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year award presented by Anderson Cooper? He gave away $10,000 to each of the other 9 candidates for Hero of the Year. His Board members shrugged with gratitude knowing how the kid from East Moline, Illinois became a hero.

Guests at the Good Leadership Breakfast this Friday will hear the compelling story of how Chad Pregracke became an international media darling and local hero through his Living Lands & Waters Foundation. One thing is for certain: he won’t be wearing that fancy TV suit.

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Chad has been recruiting volunteers to pick up garbage from the rivers since he was 17 years old.

Chad has been recruiting volunteers to pick up garbage from the rivers since he was 17 years old.

“I made money in high school by scooping up river oysters off the bottom of the Mississippi River,” Chad explains. The bottom of any major river is hard as an airport runway. Unlike a lake bottom, it’s scrubbed super clean by the mighty currents. “The filth I saw on top of the river changed my life for good,” he exclaims. The decision to start cleaning up Ol’ Man River was simple. Getting powerful people to take him seriously started intense life lessons in politics, fundraising, marketing and recruiting.

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The Living Lands & Waters barge attracts quite a crowd on the banks of Ol Man River.

The Living Lands & Waters barge attracts quite a crowd on the banks of Ol Man River.

Here’s the trickiest part: the river became polluted one piece of garbage at a time. “The only way we can clean it up is by people wading in the water, picking up one piece of garbage at a time,” he explains every where he goes. So today, he operates with a state of the art floating classroom/dormitory/recycling machine built on a river barge. The Living Lands & Waters operation has attracted sponsors that would seemingly make NASCAR envious. And their riverside pep rallies for volunteers are deliberately designed to resemble the WWF on TV.

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Seriously...we're throwing tires into the river?  Chad and his crew are pulling them out one by one.

Seriously…we’re throwing tires into the river? Chad and his crew are pulling them out one by one.

The mountain of crap “we” have been tossing into our rivers is astounding.  My favorite statistic: so far Chad and his crew have pulled out more than 75,000 tires from the Mississippi River…and there’s many more where those came from.

I’m grateful for the courage and curiosity of my friend Rick Kapsner who met Chad on an airplane.  Rick encouraged his employer CH Robinson to sponsor Chad’s appearance at the Good Leadership Breakfast last fall.  Two days after Chad committed to speaking at our breakfast – he won the CNN Hero of the Year Award…one of the ten most prestigious humanitarian awards on the planet. Goodness pays!

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Chad Pregracke is a good leader, and a CNN Hero of the Year.

Chad Pregracke is a good leader and a CNN Hero of the Year.

Good leaders make a habit of following their instincts when they decide something important in their lives is unacceptable.  And they throw their mind, body and soul into cleaning up a mess – even if they didn’t create it.

Our readers will appreciate knowing: what passions will you throw your mind, body and soul into this summer?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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