Demonstrating Service Above Self in Lakewood, Colorado since 1967

Examples that, yes, one person can make a difference

The people listed below have one thing in common: They did not set out to become famous.

All they did was to solve a problem or make the world just a little bit better for us and the generations that will follow. At the end of the day, they became famous because of their commitment to an idea and the willingness to get involved to make that idea a reality.

In short, they cared enough to at least try to do something. All would have made excellent Rotarians, since their actions exemplify Rotary’s motto: Service Above Self.

These examples are presented on various pages of this website, but due to popular request, here is a list of all of them in one place.


Consider the case of Candy Lightner. Her daughter, Cari, was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender.

Candy founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980.

Bill Gates

Back in the 1970’s there was a skinny, Harvard drop-out that started a business in his garage.

Today, Bill Gates has changed the world and the business he started: Microsoft is still around today.

John F. Kennedy

In 1960, it only took 1 vote per precinct to make John Kennedy the 35th President of the United States.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Does the name: Martin Luther King, Jr. ring a bell?

Paul Harris

In 1905, a Chicago lawyer named Paul Harris had an outlandish idea for the time: provide service to others that might not directly benefit the person giving that service.

The idea became Rotary International and with over 1.2 million members today, Rotary does make a difference.


Fed up with local drug lords and street crime, Los Angeles police chief Daryll Gates (no known relationship to Bill Gates), decided it was time to take a different approach.

The organization he founded Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) has made a difference.

Red Cross

As if being a school teacher at a time when most were men, becoming one of the first women to gain employment with the federal government were not enough, at age 60 Clara Barton established an organization still widely recognized and respected today any time a disaster strikes.

Then as now, it’s called the American Red Cross.

Roy Rogers

Leonard Franklin Slye is not exactly a house-hold name, but in the late 40ís and 50ís he taught a generation of kids right from wrong and that, yes, the "good guys" do win.

Perhaps you know him better as Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys

Sesame Street

Joan Ganz Cooney along with Lloyd Morrisett had a radical idea: kids might actually be able to learn something by watching television! Although the concept was given little chance of success in 1969, it’s advertisers included the Numbers 3 and 7 and the Letter "R" and featured the biggest bird Muppet on TV.

So - Do you know the way to Sesame Street?

Pierre Omidyar - eBay

Back in 1995, a fellow named Pierre Omidyar thought it might be kind of neat to be able to sell some of his stuff through this new thing called the Internet. The problem: The ability to sell something legally didn’t happen until 1998. Talk about an "idea killer..."

Persistance, however, will out and today eBay is the premier online sales outlet on the web.

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