Terry Earhart, professor of business and management
Like concentric circles in a stirred pond, a single gesture of gracious generosity affects multiple lives in its wake. One such selfless act involving soccer, suffering and an unexpected gift recently rippled through the Messiah College community, as a tangible display of servant leadership.
Just a few weeks after Messiah senior Geoff Pezon ’11 scored the winning goal in the 2010 NCAA Division III men’s soccer championship game, he offered a key assist to a seriously ill Messiah professor.
Terry Earhart, a professor of business and management in Messiah’s School of Business, Education and Social Sciences, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, in August 2010. On November 8, he was in a Boston hospital for surgery. By mid-December, the educator was physically weak, discouraged and experiencing some serious setbacks in his road to recovery. He and his wife Donna had hoped to be back in their Grantham home by Thanksgiving, but post-surgical complications prevented his discharge. “When the doctor came in to my room and told me I may not be home for Christmas, it was a real downer for me,” he says. “That was my lowest point.”
That afternoon, a package was delivered to his hospital room with a Grantham postmark. Inside the box lay an unexpected gift: the NCAA championship soccer ball that clinched the Messiah men’s eighth national title, signed by each Falcon soccer player and coach. The ball had been given to Geoff Pezon by NCAA officials after his overtime goal. The 21-year-old player, after hearing of Earhart’s plight from Susan Hasseler, dean of Messiah’s School of Business, Education and Social Services, immediately offered the ball as a gesture of team support and love for a teacher he had never personally met.
An avid Falcon’s soccer fan, Earhart immediately understood the significance of the game ball and the heartening message behind it. “When I opened that box and saw the game ball, I am not ashamed to say I cried” he says. “The timing of receiving that ball was perfect and so meaningful to me. It represented a real turning point in my recovery. I believe the timing of this was the Lord’s timing.
Earhart, who plans to retire from the College in spring 2011, says, “I have taught for 22 years at Messiah, so I can’t say I was surprised by this generosity. Leaving this school where I have met so many wonderful students like these only makes receiving this ball the perfect memory gift.”
Pezon will graduate this spring with a mechanical engineering degree and plans to travel in early summer with the men’s soccer team to Medallin, Colombia where they will provide academic tutoring and instructional soccer clinics for the South American city’s youth. It will be yet another opportunity for the Messiah student-athlete to apply lessons of leadership, service and grace learned in Grantham.
“Everything we learn here emphasizes ‘team over individual’ and putting others before ourselves,” says Pezon. “When I heard of Professor Earhart’s hard circumstances, I definitely wanted to do anything I could to help. I’m just happy I could put into practice what the faculty and coaches at Messiah have taught me.”
Posted on February 21st, 2011