Friday, January 7, 2011

Mundelein's Coslet has enjoyed a wonderful life

Like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life," Ken Coslet has found himself on that proverbial bridge, wondering where his life is headed.

He has indeed been through a lot over the years, surviving health problems, the closure of his business and the loss of his home.

In the midst of it all, however, Coslet continued to help others, ministering to inmates at the Lake County Jail and collecting food for the needy. Then, during a particularly low moment, Coslet made a discovery that has truly changed his life: he developed a relationship with Jesus Christ.

"God has a big plan for me," said Coslet. "I'm still alive."

Ken Coslet

The Mundelein resident's wife, Leslie, recently nominated him for the Fox Valley Volkswagen's LOVEbug2 Contest, designed to recognize an individual whose good deeds have inspired others. He won a widescreen portable DVD player and had a chance to win a 2010 Volkswagen Beetle.

In her submission at www.lovebugcontest.com, Coslet's wife said of her husband: "He is always looking for ways to help people who are in need, despite the fact that he is in need himself. He has the unique ability to put others before himself.

"Nothing would be more fitting than to see him driving around town in a VW Bug, with a couple of hearts on the side of it," she wrote. "He may have suffered a heart attack, but he still has the biggest heart in town, and everyone in our community knows that! Driving this car would help him continue to do his community work, cut down on the fuel expense and be a way of giving back to him, what he has given to both his family and others!"

Coslet may not have won the car, nor does he seek recognition, but he still feels blessed in so many ways.

"It has been a wonderful life," he said.

Coslet said his inspiration to help others came from his parents, now in their late 80's, who have always considered community service important.

"When I was a little guy, I would go door-to-door with my mom and try to collect dimes for March of Dimes," said Coslet. During the holidays, he would help his mom wrap candy in handkerchiefs to give to nursing home residents.

Truly Blessed

"The Lord has truly blessed me, so I feel the need to bless others," said Coslet. "After I lost everything, I just felt the drive to be helping others that are less fortunate. I would not pity myself I would reach out and help others."

To say that Coslet has been through a lot would be an understatement.

He survived a massive heart attack in 1996 and then walked away unscathed from a major car crash during a friend's funeral procession, during which a woman in another vehicle ran a red light and hit Coslet's car at 40 miles per hour. He suffered a stroke in April 2010. He woke up one morning to let his dogs out and then went back to bed.

"I got up to go to church and I just collapsed," said Coslet. Thanks to the doctors at Advocate Condell Medical Center who administered a blood thinner, Coslet "was able to spark back up."

Along with surviving these medical-related crises, Coslet has also survived the loss of his business and home. In 2004, Coslet bought out his partners at Terra Cotta Truck Service and became the sole owner. The business had been around since the 1950's. After not being paid by some clients, including one from a major local road project, Coslet ended up losing his business.

"It was just a great, great company," he said.

It was during this time that Coslet developed a relationship with Jesus Christ and became a self-proclaimed "Jesus freak." In 2004, while out for coffee with a friend, Coslet "was totally crumbling" and filled with worry about not receiving the small-business loan he needed to buy his trucking business. His friend, a Trinity International University graduate, "reached into his pocket and gave me a Gideons pocket Bible," said Coslet, who had been a Catholic his whole life.

'Helping hand'

"That was the moment that Christ came into my life and turned the light switch on," said Coslet.

"If you need a helping hand, reach out and it's all there," he said of the Bible.

Now a member of The Chapel, Coslet often shares his story with people at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. He also participates in a prison ministry program. During a visit to Stateville Correctional Center, he saw 22 inmates turn their lives around and profess faith in Jesus Christ. The prison ministry program also takes him to the Lake County Jail.

"We're all sinners. We all make mistakes," said Coslet.

Through The Chapel, Coslet often helps collect food for the needy. During one church food drive, members were encouraged to take a paper bag home, fill it with food and return it the following week. Coslet picked up 60 bags and handed them out around his neighborhood.

He picked up all but two bags the following week and returned them. Then, a neighbor called and asked Coslet to pick up two more bags. At the time, Coslet and his family had been living off of the food they had in their freezer and pantry following Coslet's job loss. While the "little devil" on his shoulder was telling him to take the food and put it in his own pantry, he turned it in to be given to the needy.

When he returned home, a card was waiting for him that said, "It's all going to be OK. From your friends in Christ." Inside the card were two Jewel gift cards valued at $500 apiece.

"To this day, we don't know who it was from," said Coslet. He added that not long after his business closed, the community held a fund-raiser for his family that brought in $14,000.

"Life is good," said Coslet, who is feeling better and getting back to work. "I live each day and make the best of it and try to bless others."

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