Doug MacMillan, executive vice-president of the Todd M. Beamer Foundation was frustrated with his job as a medical supply salesman.
He often turned to his best friend, Todd Beamer, for encouragement.
Beamer, in turn, once told MacMillan that he would one day find his true calling, even if Beamer had to be the one to help him find it.
Now MacMillan says he has found that calling, as the head of the organization that raises money in Beamer's name to help support children who lost their parents in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
MacMillan and his wife, Chivon, spent the evening of Sept. 10 with Todd and Lisa Beamer at their New Jersey home. The couples often spent time together at their homes, at restaurants, or at church.
MacMillan was with Lisa Beamer on the morning of Sept. 11 when she learned that her husband had, indeed, perished aboard United Flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania. Together, along with a third friend, they started the non-profit foundation to meet the long-term needs of children who lost a parent that day.
The assistance would follow through college, and eventually would assist future victims of terrorism, as well. Approximately 10,000 children lost a parent on Sept. 11.
The Beamer Foundation aims to provide support through grief counseling, financial planning and access to health care. Donations have come in ranging from 11 cents taped to a postcard from a little girl in America to a five-pound note from a 93-year old woman in England. Other donations have come from as far as Germany, Taiwan, Portugal and Hong Kong.
On Tuesday, MacMillan was in Tallahassee speaking to Florida State coaches and players about what his good friend stood for in life, what he represents in death and what the slogan ""Let's Roll'' means to those inspired by Beamer's heroism aboard that flight.
MacMillan addresses his reason for visiting Tallahassee, the controversy that erupted over FSU's adoption of ""Let's Roll'' as its 2002 team slogan and what he hoped to tell the team about Beamer.
""From my standpoint, if Florida State is going to ask permission to use "Let's Roll' then they need to understand the significance of the role they are playing by making this their team slogan [and] that it's more than just two words on a T-shirt,'' MacMillan said.
""Hopefully, I will be able to impart to the team that we're talking about my best friend's life, not two words, because Todd's life and the lives of the other heroic individuals aboard that flight carries a greater significance than a two-word slogan.
""There is a lot of emotion, a lot of pride and a lot of sacrifice behind those words. I want to make sure that message gets across.''
ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THE CONTROVERSY?
"I am surprised, because the Air Force used it last year and it wasn't mentioned. We have a relationship with NASCAR to use it and we've had high schools and elementary schools use the slogan in the past.The thing I want to stress is that this is far bigger than just Florida State.''
DO YOU EXPECT OTHERS TO ADOPT THIS SLOGAN AS WELL, AND WHAT WOULD YOUR REACTION BE?
"When it is used in a respectful way we're going to honor that request as well.''
WHY THE CONTROVERSY?
""It's hard to say. Maybe it hit on a slow [news] day and it was something to write about or maybe the proximity to Sept. 11 brought greater attention to it."
WHY ARE YOU VISITING FLORIDA STATE TO EMPHASIZE THE MEANING OF THESE WORDS, BUT DIDN'T GO TO AIR FORCE OR OTHER SCHOOLS THAT USED THE SLOGAN?
""We wanted to go to Air Force last year, but because of the time sensitivity [to Sept. 11] and financial difficulties we weren't able to get out there.''
IF FSU HAD ASKED PERMISSION BEFOREHAND, WOULD IT HAVE ELIMINATED THE CONTROVERSY?
""It's hard to say if it would have made any difference at all. Of the others to use it, some have [asked permission] and others haven't ''