MIPY 2009 Top of Slide

Most Inspiring Nominees of 2009

Danny Cottrell

Danny Cottrell

Recession Angel Sparking the Economy

Call it the Two-Buck Economic Stimulus Plan. With many businesses struggling to survive the economic downturn, Danny Cottrell, a pharmacist in tiny Brewton, Ala., gave his 24 employees a bonus--$700 for full-time workers and $350 for part-timers.

There was a catch--they had to give 15 percent to charity or to someone in need, and the rest had to be spent in local businesses. And it all had to be done with the $2 bills Cottrell ordered specially from the bank--all $16,000 worth of them.

Cottrell is nominated as one of Beliefnet's Most Inspiring People of the Year for demonstrating that neighbors can help neighbors out of tough economic times.

"I wanted to help my employees and I wanted to help the town and I wanted to help people in need," Cottrell told NBC News. "I think we've managed to do all of that."

And then some. Since Cottrell gave out the money in March, dozens of businesses from New Hampshire to Alaska have done the same. A website that charts what it calls "The People's Stimulus Package" has put more than $120,000 back into local economies.

In Brewton, the bills have gone around and around, reminding people to "pay it forward." Many have come back to Cottrell's pharmacy, where the cashier hands them back out as change and asks people to spend it locally.

"They've done a good job," Cottrell said of his employees and the townspeople. "I've been very pleased. They bought into it. It's really been a lot of fun. It's sort of taken on a life of its own."

All Nominee Top

Captain Sully
Capt. "Sully"

Hero of the Hudson


Danny Cottrell
Danny Cottrell

Recession Angel

  Kaleb Eulls

Kaleb Eulls
Football Star Saves Lives


Zach Bonner
Zach Bonner

Helps Homeless Kids

  Jill and Kevin

Jill & Kevin Wedding
Wedding Dance for Donations


Jorge Munoz
Jorge Munoz

Feeding the Hungry


Griffeth &

Do-Gooder Officers


Paul Levy
Paul Levy

CEO Who Saved Jobs


Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox

Devoted Optimist

  Iranian Protestors

Iranian Protesters
Standing Up for Freedom

All Nominee Bottom
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