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A Very Small World – But ‘Giving’ Makes It A Great One!

The Spirit Of Giving – In Small Towns Across America, Including Wayland, Iowa!

The ability to give back to your community, make a donation, support a charitable organization, or help your neighbor is without a doubt an amazing feeling. Karen and I consider ourselves blessed to be able to support many different causes that are making a difference in people’s lives. This week I wanted to talk about a special family in rural Iowa who we have grown quite fond of, who are making a difference globally, and who have touched the life of a little boy Karen and I care deeply about. 

John Mitchell is the president and founder of MD orthopedics based in Wayland, Iowa – Population, 952. MD Orthopedics is a family run business and specializes in helping children born with club foot. Children are born with this birth defect and without the Mitchell Brace produced by MD Orthopedics, children would struggle with the ability to walk. A fun little fact – NFL legend Troy Aikman was born with this condition. To think, a company in a small town is making a huge difference in children’s lives all across the world.

As I mentioned, the Mitchell family struck home for me for a special friend of mine is walking today because of their braces. Elliot Perry, an 8-year-old with a ton of spunk and a kid who warms your heart was born with bilateral club feet. He wore not 1 but 2 sets of Mitchell braces and today, as a result, is running across the playground. But how did the connection occur between the Perry family and the Mitchell family? Well, I was in Nashville supporting our small-town community revitalization program to a group of young elected leaders. One of the young men I had the pleasure to meet was Freshman State Representative Joe Mitchell, son of MD Orthopedics Founder John Mitchell. The young up and coming public servant told me about his family, what they are doing, and their passion to help. It struck a chord with me and I remembered my friends the Perry’s telling me about Elliot’s previous condition and I connected the two and the rest is pure amazement and it doesn’t end there in what the Mitchell’s are doing.

Just when you thought helping children walk was enough, The Mitchell family has started a foundation where they have donated millions of dollars around the world to help – supporting efforts from medical care to education. The Mitchell family brought their entire workforce to Central America for a two-week mission trip to help those in need. Without a doubt, this family is living the mission of HELP THY NEIGHBOR…. Thank you, Mitchell family, honored to know you and call you a friend! 

What Is A ‘Freedom Rock?’

While I was in Iowa last week, I learned of a patriotic tradition started by a great man named Bubba. Back in 1999, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen started what he calls the “Freedom Rock.” The Freedom Rock is a massive boulder, and it really is massive – over 60 tons, that Bubba dresses up annually on Memorial Day with a beautiful mural that pays tribute to our men and women in uniform. To my dearest delight, I had the incredible opportunity to speak with Bubba about his effort. I really hope you enjoy learning about Freedom Rock as much as I did. (FYI – The ‘Freedom Rock’ is coming to the Granite State – more on that in the video.)

Newport Is About To Make History Again!

After setting a Guinness World Record earlier this month, we are pleased to announce that history is about to be made yet again in Newport. On Saturday, Oct. 12th the Town of Newport will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the rebuilding of the Corbin Covered Bridge in 1994. A very interesting story surrounds the Corbin Covered Bridge. For Newport, it is much more than just a means of transportation. Back in 1993, the picturesque bridge was burned down in a case of arson. After the fire, the community rallied together, meetings were held, long hours were put in, and the historic bridge was rebuilt in its original form and methods originally used in the 1800’s.

In October of 1994, the first ever Covered Bridge Festival was held in Newport where over 9,000 people came from all over New England to witness teams of oxen pulling the newly built bridge into place. Twenty-five years later, the Newport Historical Society is honored to host a celebration like the rebuilding that took place in 1994. Over 25 events are planned for that Columbus Day weekend, including food trucks, music, historical and cultural activities, demonstrations and lots more. Admission is free and its sure to be a great day for the whole family!

Newport has always been a strong, determined town dedicated to preserving the history and community built by our ancestors. It’s time for the next generation to learn the importance of history and the strength shown by our predecessors. The Corbin Covered Bridge Festival and the Newport Historical Society is doing just that. Hope to see you all there!

To learn more about the festivities they have planned, be sure to visit:  or the Corbin Covered Bridge Festival Facebook page.

Time To Honor The Fallen – 3rd Annual Gala

It's almost that time of year again! That's right - October 10th marks our Third Annual Children of Fallen Patriots Gala. Our Gala is the largest fundraiser for Fallen Patriots in NH and brings in great guests from all around. The positive energy that this event creates is truly incredible as our community comes together to make a difference for our military families and works to fund scholarship opportunities for children of the fallen. I encourage you to join us at the Gala on October 10th at the LaBelle Winery in Amherst and be a part of making the difference! For ticket and sponsorship information, please email Dan Passen at

Profile of the Week – Steven Olikara

As mentioned in the opener of the Sunshine Report, I met Rep. Joe Mitchell at a gathering of young legislative leaders in Nashville last month. The event was the Millennial Action Conference and this week’s ‘Profile of the Week’ focuses on the Founder of the conference and its organization MAP –  Steven Olikara. In case you were wondering, MAP stands for the Millennial Action Project and is the largest organization of bipartisan elected millennials in the United States and is committed to ending political gridlock by finding common ground on the important issues facing our future. 

The organizations’ founder, Steven is a nationally known author and has led aid and relief programs across the country and the world. What is also extremely cool is that Steven has a music background and has parlayed his passion in making a difference into advising multi-platform recording artists on youth issues, energy issues, and life changing programs across the globe – in addition to addressing ‘gridlock.’

Getting to know Steven and his staff’s passion thru MAP struck home for me and it’s why we support his organization today. As some of you know I ran for office at the age of 19, and was elected to the State Legislature in New Hampshire.  At that time, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with fellow public servants of around the same age, and we got a lot done in a true bipartisan manner.  One of my fellow colleagues at that time was William Gardner, who then went on to become the longtime and current New Hampshire Secretary of State and protector of the First in the Nation Primary. Fast forward to now - my son Gates is now in the Legislature, working to get things done and a member of MAP where he recently attended their national conference along with two other New Hampshire State Legislators.  All looking for ways to find common ground.  A national effort all driven by the inspiration of Steven.  

 Leading an organization large or small can be a tough. Making meaningful difference in policy takes guts and passion. Steven is doing just that, and the road ahead will be stronger and better because of his determination and leadership.

Quotes Of The Week:  The ‘Spirit Of Giving’

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

- Winston S. Churchill

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

- Anne Frank

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” 

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Your greatness is not what you have, but in what you give.”

- Alice Hocker

"Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others." 

- Brian Tracy


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