Tom Harken, Literacy Volunteers of America
“Take one look at fun-loving Texas millionaire Tom Harken and it's tough to believe he's ever had any agonizing secrets. This Air Force soldier turned vacuum-cleaner salesman turned chairman of the board appears to have sailed through life with a smile on his face and a beautiful, compassionate wife on his arm. His is a blend of Michigan ease and Texan charm.
But life wasn't always easy for Tom. As a child, he fought for survival against polio and tuberculosis, spending almost his entire eleventh year isolated in an iron lung. He missed so much school that when he finally did get back into the classroom, Tom felt humiliated about being so far behind. So after only two weeks in the seventh grade, he dropped out and went straight to work as a stock-boy in his father’s small store. "Dad always said I'd make it because I was a hard worker," Tom said. "If God had made eight-day weeks, I'd work eight days." And figuratively, he did…”