TV executive Sam Haskell shares his story of not giving up on a boyhood hope.
Posted in , Apr 27, 2017
While at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention recently, one of the speakers told a story that was such a beautiful example of faith that I asked if I could share it with you. That speaker, Sam Haskell, graciously agreed.
Years ago when Sam was nine, a television commercial snagged his attention. Procter & Gamble had launched an ad campaign with “the Cheer Man,” a character who visited neighborhoods around the country. If he rang your doorbell and you had a box of Cheer (or even something like “Cheer” written on a piece of paper), you’d receive ten dollars.
Sam was convinced the Cheer Man would come to his home in Armory, Mississippi. Many parents would have squashed his idea as impossible, but his mom helped him prepare for that visit.
Young Sam made a three-foot by four-foot sign with the Cheer logo and hung it in his bedroom. He was ready, and he told his classmates and everyone he talked to that the Cheer Man was coming to his house. People laughed at him, but his mom kept encouraging him to dream. Sam told the scoffers, “He’s coming!”
Time went by and the ad was no longer on television. Sam stored the sign in his closet—but he still believed. The Cheer Man was coming to 405 South Third Street.
The next summer when Sam was ten, he went to a neighborhood birthday party. While they were playing football on the lawn, they heard what sounded like someone shouting through a megaphone. As the noise got closer, they saw it was a car with a loudspeaker on the roof—and a man was yelling, “Cheer! Cheer! Cheer . . . is here!”
Sam watched in awe. The car was still several blocks away, but he knew in his heart that it was going to his house. Sam ran home, grabbed his sign, and rushed back outside holding it over his head. His heart pounded in excitement.
And then, just as he’d dreamed, the Cheer Man stopped in front of his house, walked up to Sam, and said, “You get the ten dollars.”
Sam’s mom had a huge smile on her face. His dad—who’d made fun of him for his dream—stood there in shock. He just had to ask a question to the Cheer Man. “Out of all the tiny towns in Mississippi, how did you end up coming here?”
The Cheer Man replied that the names of every registered voter had been entered in a computer. It picked two random addresses in every county in every state. And one of them just happened to be 405 South Third Street in Armory, Mississippi.
Young Sam learned a valuable lesson that day about believing in a dream. He discovered that anything is possible. That knowledge paved the way for Sam Haskell’s future as a television executive and producer in Hollywood. In 2007, TV Guide named him one of the 25 Most Innovative and Influential People in Television over the last quarter century.
And it all started with the Cheer Man and a mother who encouraged his dreams.