See How He Runs! (Diet for Dreamers)

Share

Around 1917, the citizens of Elkhart, a small impoverished town in Kansas, often remarked about eight-year-old Glenn Cunningham, “See how he runs?” In the early morning hours, they frequently watched as the energetic youth dashed through vacant lots and empty fields, on his way to the tiny schoolhouse where he was enrolled. Glenn and his older brother Floyd had a special job to perform each morning before class: lighting the stove in the schoolhouse to ensure the rooms were sufficiently warm by the time the other students arrived. It was a simple chore, but one that required the boys to arise early and make great haste along chilly, dimly-lit streets.

Glenn never complained, because the task was just another excuse to run! And he loved to run! Perhaps he even lived to run. Running gave the boy both a sense of freedom and purpose. When Glenn ran he experienced the joy and excitement of knowing that he was going placesfast — with the world rushing by in a quiet, sleepy blur. When he wasn’t running, he dreamed about it!

On a morning that felt like those of countless days before, Glenn and Floyd arrived at the silent schoolhouse to light the stove. Still breathing hard from their race through town, the boys fetched the kerosene can they’d used the previous morning — unaware that someone had mistakenly refilled the can with gasoline! When Floyd lit the fluid the stove exploded in a fireball that engulfed the brothers. Floyd died in the fire. He was thirteen.

Glenn miraculously survived the explosion, but his legs were burned seemingly beyond repair. All the flesh from his knees to his feet was burnt away, and his left foot was practically destroyed: he’d lost the toes, as well as the ligaments and tendons located in the arch of the foot, which are necessary to support body weight and maintain balance when walking. Glenn’s doctor felt the boy would never stand again, let alone walk. So he strongly recommended that Glenn’s legs be amputated well above the knees.

The sheer terror of losing his legs, of never running again, sent Glenn into uncontrollable hysterics. He screamed and pleaded with his parents until they finally relented and refused to allow the doctor to go through with the amputations.

After a long hospital stay, Glenn finally went home, where he continued the arduous journey to recovery. He was determined, however, not only to walk again, but also to run. Even as a child he had great faith in his God, and held tightly to what quickly became his favorite Bible verse, “But those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Two years after the accident, Glenn took his first painful steps. That was in 1919. By 1929 he was training for the 1932 Olympic Games. As he dashed through vacant lots and empty fields, the citizens of Elkhart would remark, “See how he runs?” With intense pride, Glenn’s neighbors named him the “Elkhart Express”! But in the 1932 Games, where he took fourth place in the 1500-meter run, he was known as the “Kansas Flyer.”

Glenn continued to run, always with the goal of getting faster. He again competed in the Olympics — this time in the 1936 Games in Berlin — taking home the silver in the 1500-meter run. He also set the world record in the 800-meter run that year. But Glenn’s greatest achievement came in 1934, when he ran the mile in 4 minutes and 6.8 seconds, setting a world record that remained unbroken for three years.

Fast as he was, although, one of Glenn’s big dreams remained unfulfilled. He wanted to break the 4-minute mile, but he was never able to shave more than 2 to 3 seconds off his own best time. Of course, as with most of the world’s greatest accomplishments, there were plenty of people around at the time who swore it simply couldn’t be done. (Another dream-chaser, Roger Bannister, proved them wrong in 1954.) Still, not bad at all for the Elkhart Express!

One last detail remains. When Glenn Cunningham ran, he had this peculiar way of tilting back his head — as though he were looking down his nose at the world around him. Some people took exception to this, and commented, “See how he runs? He thinks he’s better than us!” But the man who was voted “Most Popular Athlete” by his fellow 1936 Olympians always remembered that it was God who enabled him to run! He remained humble throughout his career; but he did continue to look down his nose whenever he ran! You see, the accident that nearly claimed his legs had also severely scorched his lungs; but by tilting back his head, Glenn was better able to breathe!

Folks, never give up. Keep the faith and follow your dreams. Run if you can, crawl if you must — but never allow the shortsighted opinions of those who merely stand by and watch, to keep you from your prize! Let the whole world see how you run. Afterward, you’ll be able to echo the words of the Apostle Paul, who also overcame great odds: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)

Share

Doughnuts, Dreams, and Dedication! (Diet for Dreamers)

Share

Like beautiful clouds against a bright blue sky, our fondest, unfulfilled dreams often shift and subtly change shape — but never substance. Circumstances, time, and new insights all have a way of gently reshaping the “clouds” we chase. But the heart of those clouds, the basic ideas and areas of our greatest goals and dreams, usually remain intact.

When you have a good idea, stick with it — even through tough times. And if you do one single thing really well, and profitably, stay focused on that avocation, item, area. When you finally get something right, don’t change it. Innovate all around it, finding new ways to use it, promote it, share it, market it — but why change the core vision as long as it’s viable?

Some things, we’re happy to say, don’t change. These things were fine from the beginning, and they’re still pretty wonderful. So why tamper with success? Vernon Rudolph understood this; since 1945, times have changed, but his delicious signature “Original Glazed Doughnut” has been a constant comfort food.

Vernon Carver Rudolph was born in Marshall County, Kentucky. In 1933, at age 18, Vernon began working for his uncle who owned a small general store in Paducah, Kentucky. That same year, Vernon’s uncle, Ishmael, had purchased a secret recipe for yeast-raised doughnuts from a New Orleans chef who was working on an Ohio River barge, and was famous for his light and fluffy doughnuts. Although Ishmael’s store sold a wide variety of goods, it was his delicious doughnuts that brought the customers in. A good thing, which helped the business to weather the Great Depression.

In the summer of 1937, Vernon started pursuing his dream: he was determined to own his own store, and specifically a doughnut shop. He moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and rented a building in what is now the historic Old Salem district. He started off by making and selling his doughnuts to local grocery stores.

Each night between the hours of midnight to around four in the morning, the streets were filled with the intoxicating aroma of fresh doughnuts baking. To say that Vernon’s industry was disturbing the public peace would be an understatement. Neighbors started knocking on the door at obscene hours, asking if they could buy hot doughnuts. So, Vernon decided to cut a hole in a side wall of his shop, and started selling warm glazed doughnuts directly to customers on the sidewalk. But mind you, the warm doughnuts were only available during the wee hours of the night. We’re not positive, but there’s a good chance that Vernon not only created one of the first fast food service windows, but also got people addicted to the nightlife!

More innovations continued. In the early 1940s, Vernon started selling franchises. By 1944, he was selling a large variety of cake doughnuts in addition to the “Original Glazed Doughnut,” and he decided to implement a devious new method to torment his clientele: he realized the unused space beneath the service counter could be put to better use; so he installed display cases showing off his frosted temptations.

In 1947, Vernon founded the Krispy Kreme Corporation, and trademarked the familiar green and red bowtie logo, which had been designed for him by a local architect. In 1955, Krispy Kreme started a fundraising program which allowed schools and churches to purchase and resell doughnuts, helping these organizations to buy books, uniforms and needed equipment.

In 1963, Krispy Kreme went from hand making doughnuts to automated production — but the recipe stayed the same, as well as the taste. Vernon Rudolph continued to innovate around his core idea, his original delicious doughnuts — unchanged through decades of marketing and expansion. Today, Krispy Kreme is known internationally, with stores in Canada, South America, the Dominican Republic, and almost 100 donut shops in Mexico alone. But wherever you go, Vernon’s standard of excellence is enforced, “…Impeccable presentation is critical wherever Krispy Kreme is sold….”

Determination can be delicious, and presentation powerful. But never change a good thing. Market and innovate around it. Find your passion and stick with it! 

“God wouldn’t change his plan. He wanted to make this perfectly clear to those who would receive his promise….” (Hebrews 6:17 GOD’S WORD)

Share