RAOKK: The Kindness of Others (post 2 of 3)

Saturday , 20, December 2014 Leave a comment

If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that I asked friends and family to join in on the celebration of Katie’s birthday (read here for the original post and here for a post about what I chose to do).  Originally, I was going to keep the project quiet until after it was done (since I wasn’t looking for high fives or pats on the back).  An influential friend suggested that I spread the word and invite others, though, and, in retrospect, I’m SO glad that I did!

I posted about my plans here on the blog, then shared that post on my own Facebook page, on Katie’s page, and on the page of a group related to Katie.  I e-mailed friends and family who I know aren’t on Facebook, and I sent an e-mail to my team at work and the extended network of close colleagues I have on campus.

I was blown away by the reaction.  By the night before RAOKK Day, a huge number of people had already jumped on board and committed to performing some act of kindness in Katie’s honor.  I couldn’t believe how excited people were to help honor Katie’s life.

When I got home on the night of December 1, after all of our RAOKK were done for the day, I sat in front of my computer and cried.  I couldn’t begin to comprehend the giving that happened that day in honor of Katie’s birthday.  The amount of kindness shared that day literally took my breath away.  Every time I saw a new post or received a new message, the tears started again.  I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  To say my heart was full would be an understatement.

I want to share with everyone just how far and wide  joy and light was spread in honor of Katie on her birthday.  I won’t go into super-specific detail here, but hopefully what’s to follow will give you an idea of why I cried the tears I did.

Based on what I KNOW (i.e. not everyone reported back to me, obviously, so who knows how many people actually participated), people in at least 16 states, Washington D.C., and Canada participated.  More than 50 people e-mailed, messaged, posted on Facebook, or texted with a note about what they did in Katie’s honor.  Among those acts of kindness were:

  • Donations to various charities
  • Paying for the groceries belonging to the next person in line
  • Participation in a memorial/program for World Aids Day (which falls on December 1)
  • Purchasing a winter coat for a kid in a rough situation who was in need of one
  • Buying lunch for a hungry student
  • Taking coffee to coworkers
  • Taking treats (cookies, fruit, etc.) to any number of people–school staff, coworkers, colleagues in another office, doctor’s office, etc.
  • Being courteous in busy traffic
  • Writing notes of gratitude and admiration to important friends and colleagues
  • Donating plasma and platelets
  • Making a roommate breakfast
  • Making/sending Christmas cards to deployed soldiers
  • Making dinner for a friend who is a new mom
  • Leaving quarters and a note at the entrance to a car wash
  • Letting an elderly woman go next in line so she could sit down more quickly (even though the person who let her go had been waiting a long time already)
  • Making snacks to share at an evening meeting
  • Leaving cookies for the boss (grinning at this one, since I was the lucky boss here!)
  • Showing extra patience in the morning even when the kids were being difficult
  • Helping elderly neighbors with chores
  • Reaching out to friends/family who were ill, lonely, or who just hadn’t gotten a call in awhile
  • Walking around campus dressed as campus dressed as Santa prior to an event to spread the joy as far and wide as possible! (that one made me especially happy)
  • Donating warm hats, gloves, etc. in preparation for winter
  • Doing special things for kids (like a surprise trip for ice cream after school)
  • Paying tolls for the next car in line at toll booths
  • Collecting needed supplies for donation to schools
  • Having students write letters to their teacher from the previous year to tell them about the great things they were accomplishing
  • Buying coffee for a homeless man (then taking him lunch for the next couple of days)

And on, and on, and on.  I especially loved those who involved their kids to help teach them about doing random acts of kindness for others.  One friend’s daughter got very excited about giving to others and, after doing a couple of acts of kindness, woke up the next day asking what else they could do.  It’s an absolutely beautiful, hopeful sign about the future of our world knowing that it will be full of young people raised understanding the importance of giving to others.

I was completely floored by the number of people who never met Katie but who participated wholeheartedly.  It’s a testament to the life she lived, I think, that upon hearing her story, even those who didn’t know her wanted to help honor her life.  I’m completely humbled by the way people opened their hearts simply because I asked that they help me honor my best friend’s life.  I don’t know what I did to deserve to have such beautiful, amazing people in my life, but there are simply no words for the depth of my gratitude.

Each and every person who participated (whether I know or not) made a difference in the world that day.  In the world of one person, many people, or to the world in general by sending positive energy out into the universe.

Anyone lucky enough to know Katie knows that she made a huge difference in this world in the short time she was here.  I have to think she was smiling down at all of us seeing all of the joy that everyone brought to the world that day.  One friend said that as her day was ending and she was thinking about Katie, a huge rainbow, the brightest she’d ever seen, appeared in the sky.  I’m choosing to believe that was our Katie–her joy and happiness at seeing all of us carrying on her light becoming so great that it eventually spilled into the sky as a brilliant rainbow.

Maybe you don’t believe in things like that.

After experiencing the power of friends, family, and strangers uniting across a continent to celebrate and honor the beautiful life of one of the most amazing people I’ll ever know, I can’t do anything BUT believe.

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