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It never seems like much at the time, but small even the smallest decision can have a major impact on your life and others lives and even the lives of generations to come.

A small decision to attend a party, go to a movie, or ask someone out on a date can lead to marriage or children.
The question of small decisions can be more understood with a story about a decision made by a 10th grade student.
It was toward the end of his freshman year when he was approached by his parents and told that due to poor grades and possibly a lack of effort on his part that they could not pay for his private school education the next year. They instead, would be sending him to a trade school to learn a profession. He thought that they might be right and the following fall attended the trade school to become an electrician. Shortly after beginning his new training he knew that this was not for him. It was an honorable profession but it was not where he was being led to be in life. So he made a seemingly small decision to get back to the private school to be where he felt he should be.
He told his parents that he was going back and that he would be working to pay his own way to get back. He worked at gas stations, mowed lawns, shoveled snow and did most everything he could to get back to the school.

Shortly before the next semester started, his parents sat him down and told him that they had been watching him. They watched as he worked all those jobs and saved a good sum of the money he needed to get back to school. They told him that because of his efforts, they would help him financially. He started back at school and befriended a fellow student who had a car and they rode to school together.
Because he was not the best of students and did have to study extra hours just to get by, he went out for the Cheerleading squad (they had male cheerleaders back then). Cheerleading required less time than playing sports so that is why he chose to cheer. He made it though High School and served a little time in the Army after school.
After his service in the Army, he came back home and looked up his friend from school. His friend said “We should start a business!” He asked what business should we start and the friend said “I don’t know - let’s just start something to see what we can do.” So they purchased a large boat and decided to sail it to the Caribbean to do ocean tours. It didn’t matter to them that neither one knew how to sail a boat, they were just happy to try their hand at a business. They learned a lot and became pretty good sailors in sailing down the east coast of America to near Cuba. The boat was not very seaworthy and it developed so many leaks that they could not keep up with the incoming water and they sank off Cuba and were rescued. They were taken by a passing ship to South America and their parents thought that they would come home, get jobs and settle down. They decided to stay and learn about the culture and see what the adventure brought their way. After a while, they came home to West Michigan and started a new business of a Pilots Training School. Neither one new how to fly and the flight school business did not last long. They next tried a drive-in restaurant which did not do too badly but it was still not what the two enterprising young men wanted to do. Soon they discovered a vitamin Multi-Level Marketing opportunity and they did pretty well. They found that they had a knack for this type of business and after a while they purchased the company and brought some of their own products into the mix. They built their company and it is still in business today.

Another part of this story is of a decision a young man made to place an application in 1979 at a large West Michigan company. He saw an ad in the local paper and decided to try for a job there. They took his application and asked him what he wanted to do? He said “what jobs are available” and they told him he could be a skid loader, a Hilo driver or a mechanic. The applicant asked what was the pay ranges for each and they said the skid loader job was $5.50, the Hilo driver job was $6 and the mechanic job was $6.10 and that a passing mechanical aptitude test was required to get the mechanic job. The applicant thought what the heck and took the test, passed it and was able to start the next week. About a week after starting his job, the new employee attended an employee meeting and was asked to come up to the front of the room and introduce himself. He shook the President of the company's hand and told the crowd of employees who he was and where he last worked.

27 years went by and he no longer works for that company.

Another part of this story is about a brand new baby girl who was born almost in 2006. The family was overjoyed and she was beautiful. At about 5 months, the pediatrician noticed a heart murmur and suggested that the little girl be taken to a pediatric heart specialist where this little girl was found to have a hole in her heart and blood was leaking from one chamber into another. This condition, if untreated would keep her heart from developing properly and she would be physically unable to do strenuous things that little girls like to do. In the old days it was called a “weak heart” and the child would live between 5 and 10 years and their heart would give out. Fortunately, there was a local children’s hospital where a procedure could be performed to plug the hole with a titanium spring or two. The date was set and the 10 month old baby was taken to the hospital. The first try did not go well, took several hours and the surgeon was concerned about the baby being under sedation for so long. They stopped the procedure at 3 or 4 titanium springs and took her to her room for the overnight stay to monitor her condition. In the middle of the night diaper changing; there was a lot of blood in the urine. The procedure did not work to close the hole as expected and another procedure needed to be performed right away. The second attempt again took several hours with 4 more titanium springs placed in the hole and it was a success. The baby now has a normal life expectancy and dances and sings and does all the things a healthy 3 and a half year old girl can and should do. This hospital, the surgeon and the staff effectively saved the life of this little angel.

So where do the small decisions of life come to play here?

1. The 9th grade student was Rich DeVos, founder of Amway Corporation.
2. I was the employee who shook his hand 34 years ago.
3. The hospital was built in large part from a donation from Helen and Rich DeVos.
4. The beautiful little girl who was saved is my Grand daughter Isabella.
5. I shook the hand of the man whose then small decision back in his 10 grade year that effectively saved my granddaughters life.

The decision made in the 10th grade set in motion changes in not only Rich DeVos' life, his decision changed many, many lives.
Mr. DeVos may never know the impact on other peoples lives that were made by his decision.
But I say "Thank You Rich DeVos...."