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Melissa Hanson

Dear Mr. Biro,

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be writing the author of my Dad, David Hanson's, favorite book thanking him for playing a major role in celebrating his life. Although words can't explain my love and admiration for my Dad, I'd like to attempt to describe my Dad to you and explain what an immense impact you and your book had on this special man and his lucky family. 


My Dad was born and raised in Maine where he was an amazing son, friend, student and baseball player. After completing high school, despite offers to play for the Yankees and Red Sox, my Dad attended the University of Notre Dame (class of 1963) where he was an English major, captain of the baseball team and fell in love and married my Mom, Barbara. Before finally settling in Valparaiso, Indiana and raising their five children, 4 girls and l boy, my Dad fought in the Vietnam War, worked for the CIA, and graduated from American University College of Law in Washington D.C. 


My Dad's top priority was always his family. In addition to dedicating himself to his family, however, my dad had limitless interests including: a love of his work and the law, a love for running, completing 5 marathons--the first of which he ran at the age of 50!, a love for teaching, as an adjunct professor at Purdue University Calumet teaching courses in leadership, and finally, a passion for reading, specifically in areas of leadership, management, and history. 


I am the youngest of the five children. Following in my Dad's footsteps, I completed the Chicago marathon in 1999, and am also studying to be an attorney. Currently, I am completing my final year of law school at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Last summer, I was an intern with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago and had the great fortune of attending your leadership conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. on July 27, 2001.

My Dad was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, carcinoid, in March of 1998. Although we, as a family, were devastated, my Dad navigated his illness with extraordinary courage and, like all other obstacles in his life, treated his illness as a challenge. Every time my Dad received disappointing news about his illness he would tell the family: ''well, we've been presented with another challenge. We can't control what happens, we can only control how we respond.'' My Dad always chose to respond with a positive outlook, courage and faith.


The last time my Dad received disappointing news about his illness was on Thursday, July 26th, the day before you came to speak to our group in Washington DC. It was on that day that our family learned that my Dad's chemotherapy was not working and the doctors thought it would be in his best interests to discontinue treatment. I can still vividly remember sitting alone in my hotel room in a strange city hearing the news. All I wanted to do was go home and be with my family. As I got off the phone and looked at the itinerary for the following day I saw that we were to listen to a speaker the following morning for three hours before we were able to get on our flights home. Without looking at who the speaker was, or what the subject of the session would be, I convinced myself that I did not want to go, and could not wait to get home.


As I reluctantly entered the Chinese Room the following morning I was met with complete surprise and delight. Our three hour speaker that morning was a motivational speaker who was going to speak to us about leadership, living life to the fullest and in the most successful way - a passion of my Dad's. I eagerly walked up and took a seat in the front row, opened up "Beyond Success" and began to thumb through the pages as I anxiously awaited the author's Brian Biro, arrival. That session changed my life and the life of those I love.


After spending three amazing hours listening to and interacting with you, I immediately called my parents to tell them what an amazing session I just experienced. That night, I returned back to Indiana with my copy of "Beyond Success" and another copy for my Dad.


My Dad loved books. For as long as I can remember, Dad and books went hand-in-hand. He would immerse himself in whatever he was reading so completely and so passionately that it would always inspire us to join him. As we got older, we noticed that Dad would seem to have found the "Holy Grail" in many books that he read. We would all scramble to read the book and discuss it with him as quickly as possible. This was exactly what we did with your book. My Dad repeatedly told us that "Beyond Success" was his favorite book and that Brian Biro was a phenomenal author. Because he completely agreed with and loved everything you said in "Beyond Success" he had everyone, from my sister in London to friends in California reading "Beyond Success."


I knew this would be his response to your book!!


On September 23, 2001, at the age of 59, exactly 7 days short of his 60th birthday, my Dad's 3 1/2 year battle with cancer ended. Finally, he was free of his illness.


My Dad has a huge support network of people who love and care about him. Likewise, there are many people my Dad loved and cared about. As my family was deciding on a remembrance and gift to give my Dad's pall bearers, we decided that each should receive a copy of "Beyond Success." This book, that he so enjoyed and that spoke so clearly of how he lived his life, was the perfect gift. I want to thank you for making this process so easy and exciting, and playing such a major part in my celebrating my Dad and his life.


Since we last spoke, all of the pall bearers, spanning from Maine to California, have read "Beyond Success." Each one has called my family and offered praise for your book and the values it instills. They eagerly discuss the lessons they have learned and speak of how closely your lessons mirror the way my Dad lived his life.


Thank you for listening to my story. I wanted to communicate my story to you and share how you and your book, "Beyond Success" impacted my Dad, my family, and those that he loved. After meeting you and reading your book, I know that you and my Dad had a lot in common, and would have made great friends. You shared a love of your family, your work, running, reading, leading and living a great life.


Thank you for the book, thank you for sending me and my family "The Unstoppable Spirit" set, we have all begun to work on it together, and thank you for sharing your insights and stories with the world!! Rest assured, you have forever touched and changed a special family in Indiana and the people they love.


I would like to leave you with a few of what my family likes to refer to as "Dad's Sound Bites" which have always helped my family to choose positive responses to the challenges we face in life:

1) Never count yourself out.

2) Every difficult situation is an opportunity to learn.

3) Never run by anyone without saying hello.


Thank you for your kindness.

Your Grateful Student,

Melissa Hanson

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