Tim Madigan will share a story of kindness today. It’s one that he hopes will resonate with people here in Kerrville and across the country.
The Fort Worth-based writer will make a speech today at Schreiner University as the concluding part of The Kerrville Daily Times’ Kerrville Kind campaign, which aims to highlight the good things in our community — drawing upon the inspirational messages of the late Fred Rogers, the celebrated host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Through an assignment at the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Madigan got a chance to meet Rogers and developed a lasting friendship with the television host until Rogers’ 2003 death. Their friendship, along with Rogers’ friendship with Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod, is the basis for a movie that will be released Friday starring Tom Hanks as the iconic Rogers.
“Fred Rogers is one of the most courageous people I’ve ever known,” Madigan said. “He was unafraid to be who he really was.”
The sold-out luncheon will feature a 25-minute talk by Madigan about some of the lessons he learned through their years long friendship, which featured many letters between the two men. Madigan credits Rogers for helping him save his marriage and to work through the painful death of his brother. More importantly, Rogers proved to be a surrogate father in many ways for Madigan, who admittedly struggled with depression.
“I never felt like I succeeded,” Madigan said. “So, I wrote (Rogers) a letter and I asked him would you be proud of me? He wrote back and said: “Dear Tim, the answer to your question is yes.”
Madigan’s book “I’m Proud Of You” explores many examples of Rogers’ capacity to care and engage with people despite being one of the country’s most recognizable television personalities.
“You are a beautiful man, inside and out, and those who care about you are privileged to share your pain,” Rogers wrote in a 1997 letter as Madigan struggled with the possibility of divorce. “As for suffering, I believe that there are fewer people than ever who escape major suffering in this life. In fact, I’m fairly convinced that the Kingdom of God is for the broken-hearted. You write of ‘powerlessness.’ Join the club. We’re not in control; God is.”
The three days of activities featured a children’s art show, and a Wednesday night screening to a packed house at Schreiner University of the 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”