Below: Russell Jackson shows
off a Kid One transport. Left:
Jack Simpson with friends in
Thailand. Sue Simpson reads
to children in India.
These scho the lives of more
ols have come at than
Mortenson. To raise money for
the first school in Korphe,
worked double shifts as a
nurse, briefly lived in his car
to save money and gave up a
relationship with a woman he
loved. He has endured death
threats and an eight-day kidnapping
due to the fact that he insists girls be
allowed to attend his schools. He believes llowed to attend his schools. He believes
that educating girls, an idea often met with
violent resistance in this part of the world, is
OPPORTUNITY FOUNDATION PHOTOS
OPPORTUNITY FOUNDATION PHOTOS
tremendous personal cost to
e ven t he little we had could help those who
n eeded it most.”For the next
12 years, they
donated money to various charities, until, in
2006 they started their own, Opportunity
Jack explains, “with close involvement, people
and kids become family, and it”s more
satisfying to donate to your own family.”
Sue, a former schoolteacher, ha d
previously ventured into the slums of Hyderabad,
an Indian city of
7 million. “I asked people
what they needed,” she remembers, “and the
answer was schooling for kids and medical
services, so that’s what we offered.”
Today, on a budget of less than $100,000
a year, their K– 5 school supports a staff of 25,
feeds and educates 300 children, and provides
medical services to 5,000 slum residents
nearby. It also pays for continuing education
at a local private school for students who
qualify—and most do.
Jack and Sue spend six months a year in
India and at a new “safe center” at Nang Rong
in northeastern Thailand that will eventually
offer a home, education, healthcare and counseling for 400 abused girls, victims of child
slavery. “I felt this was the worst thing that
could happen to someone,” says Jack, “and no
one in the area was providing these services.”
The couple funds their projects with 30
percent of the profits from their Coeur
d’Alene, Idaho, 3D architectural design and
drafting software company, Chief Architect.
Jackson recalls, “and found a small lesion on
his brain.” The problem was corrected, chang-
ing the family”s life.
“There are people missing out on world-
classmedicalcare becausethey can”tget
there,” Jackson says.
In April of 1997, Jackson quit his job as a
f irefighter, cashed in his retirement fu nds and
started Kid One (
),anorgani-zation devoted to transporting impoverished
rural children to metropolitan health facilities.
Kid One began with Jackson, one van and
his vision. Today, it has nine vehicles serving
30 counties throughout central and north-central Alabama.
Jackson admits, “Kid One is a Band-Aid
solution to a very big problem. A national
solution is needed. We’ve got thousands of
children in this state and millions on the
national level on the wait list for this kind of
M ortenson says that global studies show says that global studies show
t hat educating w omen significantly decreases
i nfant mortality rates and helps to decrease rates and helps to decrease
p opulation exp losion, and educated moth-e rsaremorea pttodetertheirsonsfrom
joining terroristgroups. groups.
“ Toseeach ildfirststartwriting[hisor
h er] name is r ewarding,” M ortenson says.
“Then, all of a sudden, that child has identity
in the world. It is profound.”—W ill Fifield
Russell Jackson, Kid One
Fresh out of high school, Russell Jackson
took his “dream job” as a member of the
Hoover, Alabama, Fire Department.
On March 28, 1992, Jackson’s engine company was called to a home near the station.
“A father was waiting in the front yard,”
Jackson recalls. “He literally pulled me off the
engine. He led me upstairs.”
Jackson found the mother kneeling over
her young son, performing CPR. The firefighter took over, but it was too late; the boy
died in his arms.
“I took it pretty hard,” he admits. An
understatement: It changed his life.
A counselor suggested volunteer work.
Visiting a severely depressed rural area,
Jackson met a young man who could only
grunt. The parents said, “He’s retarded.”
He sensed that the assessment was wrong
and arranged to take the young man to a hos-
Jack and Sue Simpson
Fifteen years ago, Jack and Sue Simpson,
both now 62, went on a missions tour to
India and Thailand to visit people who had
dedicated themselves to improving the lives
of the poor. Jack had just started a software
company and Sue had always wanted to be a
“After spending 40 minutes with Mother
Teresa,” recalls Jack, “we suddenly realized that