"Surviving and Thriving Mentor Leadership Retreat" - Necker Island

I walk away from this week with a renewed respect for strength of character and determination to succeed.

- Richard Branson

From age 18 to 70, billionaires to dead broke, and various religious and political beliefs . . . most of us arrived on Necker not knowing the other guests, why each was invited, or what those 5 days would come to mean to us. Yet each emerged a better person with renewed confidence. Our newfound family has been fortified by our collective revelation that adversity is a horrible thing . . . to waste!

- Captain Charlie Plumb

In the spring of 2013, Glenn and his wife Mindy, requested select Horatio Alger Scholars to submit essays on the theme of "Surviving and Thriving" for an opportunity to attend the Stearns' first Scholar Mentoring Leadership retreat on Richard Branson's exclusive Necker Island.  Themed "Surviving & Thriving," the retreat intention was to amplify the value of adversity in finding & living our "Purpose."  Six scholars were selected for the gathering which also included leaders of industry and their spouses, as well as several world-renowned guest speakers: mountaineer and "Touching the Void" author Joe Simpson, Everest disaster survivor Dr. Beck Weathers, and American Vietnam POW Captain Charlie Plumb. Everyone attending shared their "survivor" stories including Richard Branson and Glenn.  All bonded over the resilience of the human spirit, and left inspired intending to live with more meaning, purpose, and community.

Enjoy some of the magic from the Stearns Mentoring Leadership Retreat 2013 captured in this video.

Celebrating the Capacity of the Human Spirit at the Stearns 2013 Mentoring Leadership Retreat

Richard Branson shared with the world in this blog what an impact the Stearns Mentoring Leadership Retreat event made on him. He also used the Stearns' gathering as inspiration to celebrate and Honor Nelson Mandela's 95th Birthday, also recognized as a Global Day of Service.

Read Richard Branson's blog about the Stearns' 2013 Mentoring Leadership Retreat.

Captain Charlie Plumb, a 6-year Vietnam prisoner of war survivor, and Hall of Fame Speaker, blogged for Virgin's website about his experience at the Stearns Mentoring Retreat. He also shares his philosophies regarding true "Purpose" and "Surviving & Thriving."

Read Captain Charlie Plumb's blog on the capacity of the Human Spirit at the Stearns' 2013 Leadership Gathering.

Keith Harkin, a multiple #1 World Billboard album artist, original member of Celtic Thunder, and signed with legendary David Foster - Verve Records, was invited by Stearns to entertain the group with his heartfelt music. The Irish powerhouse singer was so inspired by the student’s stories of "Surviving and Thriving" that he penned this uplifting song "You Can Tell The World." Listen below:

I don’t have the words yet to express the powerful impact that this past week has had on me. I am still trying to absorb the entirety of the experience. It is going to take some time to process. It was just amazing to see the magic of your vision of getting this group of people together and how we connected so deeply and so intensely in such a short period of time. You both have a very special gift that you are sharing with the world.

I just keep thinking about the Horatio Alger scholars (the kids). They were all so impressive especially given what they have each experienced in their young lives. I look forward to following them through their college years and beyond.

Thanks for making me realize that big or small we can all make a significant impact on people’s lives every day. I will never forget the. banana bread, the quilt and the candy at the gas station. It doesn’t take much to make a lasting impression. I want to do more myself and I want to get Cheryl and the kids more personally involved. In my next act, amongst other things, I want to plant the seeds and start watering.

I love you both. I feel privileged to call you my friends.

With Respect and Gratitude,

Tim Redfern

President & CEO Insulectro

I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I had an absolute blast, and I am continually taking home relationships because of this experience. It opened my eyes to the impact I can actually have on the world through both personal and professional problems. As the trip had its fun and exciting times, I will always remember the focus on surviving and thriving. And it is certainly my chance to thrive. I will continue to work hard in college, and I will definitely keep in contact with you as I progress. You guys continue to amaze me with your humbling and giving attitudes. Thank you for brightening my future and allowing me to be a part of this amazing journey. As it has been said before, I know my father is looking down on me with great love and pride. I will continue to make all of you proud. I love both of you and I will be emailing as often as possible. Thank you again.


Jacob Thomas Lindamood

Horatio Alger Scholar

We're still in the Necker "bubble." I don't think our feet have touched the ground since Susan and I were with you two. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! "Surviving and Thriving" was a life changing experience. Last week, Susan and I flew Dakota and Will out for a few days. We can't thank you enough for introducing us to those kids.


Charlie and Susan Plumb

Vietnam POW and Motivational Speaker

I thought the "Surviving & Thriving" retreat would be an amazing experience, but I had no idea that it would change my life. Thank you so much for choosing me for such an amazing opportunity. Your will to help others inspires me to touch as many lives as I can. I will be forever grateful for everything I learned on Necker Island.

Dakota Garza

Horatio Alger Scholar

I just wanted to say thank you for having me this week. It was truly an unforgettable experience. I walked in really not knowing what to expect and left with the clearest head. I want to help as many young kids as possible and continue to make a difference in their lives. What you and Mindy are doing is remarkable and shows what type of people you are. The connection we all made together was powerful and it left me excited for the future. Looking forward to more great times together and being a part of your epic stories!!!!

Matt Leinart

Former NFL Quarterback, 2004 Heisman Trophy Recipient

I miss Necker so much. By Necker, I refer to everyone that was there, supporting us. I loved my time there, it's so special to me and won't be forgotten. Thank you so much for that amazing experience. I hope that I can make a difference in your goal to share Horatio Alger's mission. I can't say enough thank you's. You guys have made such an impact. I will be sending updates on my college journey out as soon as possible!

I love you guys so much!

Emilia Kuemin

Horatio Alger Scholar

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