I enjoy the idea of superheros as much as the next guy.
As a child, I used to dress up as Batman for Halloween. I went out as Batman for five Halloweens in a row. One year, I even stuffed blown-up balloons into my costume, so it would look like I had Batman’s muscles.
To me, Batman was the perfect superhero.
He wasn’t from some other planet. He was just a really rich (and handsome) guy who had some personal issues to contend with. So he took his demons out on the criminals in his own city, improving Gotham in the process. He bought cool gadgets. He rocked a sweet superhero suit. He was stronger, faster, and smarter than the average guy.
He was still relatable, though. You could certainly sympathize. And with all of the family issues I’ve had to personally contend with, I can empathize with the character in a way. Batman/Bruce Wayne always resonated with me. I identified with the idea of how a hero should be a real-life person, or at least someone who could actually (in theory) exist.
Well, as I’ve grown and changed over the years, my idea of a hero has changed a bit.
While I still think a hero should be a real-life person who could actually exist, I now believe a hero is a real-life person who should, can, and does exist. One doesn’t have to be famous, rich, or superpowered (or even handsome) to be a hero. Heroes aren’t confined to the pages of comics, or Hollywood screens.
A hero is someone who changes the world for the better. A hero is someone who helps those less fortunate. A hero is someone who inspires others to do good. A hero is someone who is selfless.
Heroes exist all around us.
Unfortunately, though, real heroes typically go unnoticed by society.
As such, I thought I’d take some time to recognize a real hero today.
He invested almost $1,000 at the time.
That investment, which eventually turned into Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA), is now worth more than $2 million.
Russ never sold his stock. He instead let the investment compound over almost seven decades, enjoying his life in the process. Russ never found need for the money, preferring the simple things in life. He likes oatmeal and stews. He never had a mortgage. And his last car was a Dodge Omni that was more than 25 years old. He discovered something that not many people discover: indefinite money doesn’t buy indefinite happiness, although money can change the world for the better and make oneself happier in the process.
Russ decided to give away the entirety of his investment to the Illinois Audubon Society, which is using some of that money to establish a wildlife refuge that will be dedicated to Mr. Gremel.
He decided there was no point in waiting until he was dead to give away the money:
Why not give it to them now, when … I have the pleasure and enjoyment of seeing it.
Indeed, giving while living is, in my view, the most rational way to give. You get to see the fruits of your labor blossom into something incredible, and you end up happier and more fulfilled for it. Moreover, there are so many worthy causes and needs at any given time.
Russ Gremel doesn’t have fancy gadgets, his own comic book series, a mansion, big muscles, or superpowers.
But he is changing the world with a relatively small investment he made several decades ago. He’s helping those less fortunate. He’s inspiring others to do good. And he’s selfless.
His legacy will live on long after he’s gone. And the world is better off for him.
Russ Gremel is a real-life hero.
How about you? Do you plan to become a real-life hero?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.