'Mattress Mack' gives commencement address

May 22, 2009 9:00:10 PM PDT
After just two hours of sleep, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale was back up and at it Friday, working at his store. He put in a full day's work then he headed out to give a graduation address at a local high school, Westbury Christian School. People in attendance at the Westbury graduation ceremony said Mack could have canceled his appearance, but he didn't. Mack said it was important to show the graduating seniors what persistence is and how to act in the face of adversity.

As Mattress Mack took the stage, he received a standing ovation. The applause was like a consoling handshake from a friend who knows of the pain his friend most recently has endured.

"Mack, he's a hero to us tonight, for sure," said Westbury Headmaster Greg Glenn.

It was less than 24 hours ago that fire raced through the warehouse at Gallery Furniture, destroying at least $5 million in furniture, perhaps double that number.

The business Mack spent 28 years building is now all but gone.

"Just because I have a setback in my business life doesn't mean I'm going to let these kids down," said McIngvale.

So Mack kept his promise.

"I'm here to challenge you tonight to dream big," said McIngvale to the students.

He delivered the commencement address, inspiring the seniors here to achieve.

"I have learned that the greatest skill we have in life is to overcome adversity," said McIngvale.

In fact, he says the fire is proof again that persistence pays.

"All you got to do, seniors, is get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the fight one more time," said McIngvale. "You got to have mental toughness, tenacity, and that never give up attitude."

Westbury Christian School's valedictorian said Mack is an example of a selfless life lived. At a time when one could be so focused on his own loss, his own sorrow and frustration, he instead stood as an example, something for which we all might strive.

No one suffered any injuries in the fire. Investigators are trying to find out what sparked the fire.

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