Updated: May 2
With all the negative news we are exposed to every day, it is good to read uplifting news. Five acts of kindness that have impacted me are listed below. These acts of kindness gave me the impetus and urged me to be more mindful of human suffering and partake in kindness daily.
An eight-year-old’s dying wish
In 2013, 8-year-old Delaney Brown was diagnosed with leukemia in May and by December, doctors were only giving her days to live. While she had already received donations to pay for medical expenses and a video chat with Taylor Swift, she knew what she really wanted as one last Christmas wish: to hear live carolers outside her house. So, her parent posted it on social media. Instead of just a few people, an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people turned up, allowing Delaney to hear them sing "Frosty the Snowman" and "Jingle Bells" even though she was too sick to come to the window. She posted a picture on Facebook saying, "I can hear you now!!! Love you!" Delaney died just a few days later, on Christmas morning.
What love really means
In 2014, Lata Bhagwan Khare, was a 65-year-old resident from a small village in Maharashtra, India. Lata, with her 3 daughters and husband, was living a life of poverty. They diligently saved the small salaries they earned as farm laborers to help pay for their daughters’ marriages. After all their daughters were married, Lata’s husband fell ill. Treating Lata’s husband was expensive; therefore, Lata did not know what to do and felt helpless. She begged everyone she knew for money and with the little money she got she went to the hospital with her husband.
While the doctors were examining and testing her husband, she prayed to God to save her husband. Unfortunately, doctors gave her bad news. The tests that were done were not able to diagnose the problem and further tests were needed. Lata could not afford the new tests and again felt helpless. Her world was collapsing, and she could not stop crying.
When she and her husband came out of the hospital, they did not know what they would do. They stopped at a street food court and got two samosas on a piece of newspaper. Lata noticed the headline in the newspaper, “Baramati Marathon and its prize money.” Lata’s mind could not stop thinking about the prize money. Although the Baramati Marathon was the next day, Lata decided to run the marathon. It was the only way she could get the money her husband needed to get treatment.
As the 3-kilometer (1.86 miles) race was about to start, Lata had to argue with the organizers as they did not want to let her participate. She was in a saree and sandals. Lata begged and pleaded with officials until they allowed her to participate. At the start of the race, there were runners in running clothes and running shoes, and there was Lata as a 65-year-old with sandals and wearing a torn saree. Lata fastened the bottom of her saree to just above her ankles and started running.
She ran like a woman on a mission. It seemed that nothing else mattered more to her than winning the prize money to help save her husband. Her sandals broke halfway through the race, yet she continued to run. Her saree was drenched in sweat, but she continued to run. Her feet started to bleed as they hit the hard surfaces and pebbles on the road, but she continued to run. She ran for her husband.
As the race continued, the people watching started to clap and cheer for her. Even though she had never run any race before, she won the senior citizen's category of the Baramati marathon. She collected 5,000 Indian rupees (less than $100 US in 2013) as the prize money. Lata used the prize money to ensure her husband received proper medical treatment. She did not stop when her foot started to bleed, or make excuses. She would do anything she could for the love of her life. That is what love is.
Helping a child even though he needed help himself
Dan Black was paralyzed from the chest down at age 22 due to an unfortunate biking accident. He was sold on the idea that stem-cell treatment may help him walk again in the future. He started raising money for stem cell treatments and after 4 years had raised £22,000 (~$30,000 US). His mom showed him an article in the newspaper about a nearby 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who was trying to raise £60,000 for an operation to help the boy walk for the first time. Despite Dan’s paralyzed state, he donated all of the money he raised for his treatment to the 5-year-old’s fund. Dan’s rationale was that the boy needed the money more than him. The news of Dan’s generosity allowed the fund for the 5-year-old to raise the £60,000 within days. Two years after the surgery, the boy was walking to school on his own and even running with classmates. Dan’s kindness made an impact on a boy he never knew before!
Helping a stranger who walked 21 miles each day to and from work
After the story of a 56-year-old man named James Robertson was featured in a Detroit newspaper, three GoFundMe campaigns were started and raised $33,000 in hours. What was so unique about the James story? James’ neighborhood in Detroit only had partial bus services to his factory job location. He had to walk 8 miles to his job and 13 miles back home five days each week. He was not able to get 6 hours of sleep most nights. After the story, he was offered bicycles, a car dealership offered him a choice between two cars, and one person even offered to drive him to work every day. James was overwhelmed by the generosity but still urged Detroit to consider improving bus service as he noted that he was not the only person that had to walk long distances to work. So, even though James would not need public transport anymore, he was still concerned for others.
Ugandan women who donated to Hurricane Katrina victims
A Ugandan nurse, Rose Busingye, had asked a group of Ugandans that had previously raised money for Southeast Asia tsunami victims to pray for victims of Hurricane Katrina in the US. This group of Ugandan women eventually donated $900 to a Catholic aid organization to help with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. What makes this even more remarkable is that these women earn on average only $1.20 US/day, breaking rocks into gravel. These extraordinary ladies sold bananas, chairs, necklaces, and other items to raise money.
Written by Aldrin V. Gomes, PhD, FCVS, FAHA