From abused child to FranklinCovey executive and LDS family man, Sam Bracken's journey of a radical change
Over the course of his mission, Bracken communicated with his mother and sent requests to the church headquarters for missionaries to visit her in McCall, Idaho. After almost a year, he could tell she had not been taught, so he penned a candid, strongly worded plea to Salt Lake for someone to visit her.
The letter worked. An older couple found the humble home, and Bracken’s mother responded positively to their friendship and gospel message. As Elder Bracken concluded his mission, he received special permission to fly to Idaho and baptize his mother before returning to Atlanta for his release.
“As I stood in the waters of baptism, performing that ordinance for my mother, who had made about as many mistakes as you can make in life, for her to come out of that water clean and pure, following Christ, was one of the most sacred, beautiful moments of my life,” Bracken said. “She was the most unlikely Mormon you would ever imagine.”
Bracken’s mother eventually received her temple blessings and was faithful until she died in 2004.
Bracken was blessed to teach and baptize many converts in Canada, but it was also where he met his wife, Kim. Following his mission, they stayed in touch as she served a French-speaking mission in Montreal. After her mission, they dated and were married in the Washington D.C. Temple.
Today, Bracken is the global director of FranklinCovey Media Publishing. He and his family live in Kaysville. His oldest son, Beau, is serving a mission in Chile. “I’m pretty blessed in my life,” he said.
With the help of co-author Echo Garrett, Bracken self-published his book, “My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change,” in 2010. The title stems from when Bracken moved to Atlanta and all his possessions fit into one small orange duffel bag. In addition to sharing his story, Bracken shares his “7 Rules for the Road,” designed to help readers set goals and gauge their own progress.
The book sold about 12,000 units and won several awards before Crown Publishing picked it up.
Additionally, Bracken and Garrett co-founded “The Orange Duffel Bag Foundation,” a nonprofit organization that provides professional coaching, training and ongoing mentoring for at-risk youths ages 12-24, as well as support for their guardians and caring adults. The program, with his principles and goals, has already started to change lives, Bracken said, with more down the road.
“I was a dope-smoking, little hippie kid in Vegas that grew up on the fringes of the mob and motorcycle gang members. There was no way a Utah family would have approved their kids playing with me. To help a kid (like that) is messy, risky and hard. It’s not neat and tidy,” Bracken said. “But if you can do nothing more than just help one person transition to a productive, positive life, it could change the whole trajectory and landscape of their life. It is so worth it. It made all the difference for me.”
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