This story actually starts on December 14th, when our family went to a local diner to eat after the girls had performed in "The Nutcracker". As we were going inside, we noticed a van near the door covered with eye-catching and beautiful graphics related to fighting ALS (remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?) and mentioning something called the Inspire Media Network. Near our table as we ate was a family in which the father had ALS -- he was in a wheelchair and his wife fed him, but he was enjoying himself and in every other way quite normal, a handsome fellow with a lovely wife and daughter.
When they had finished their meal, the wife came over to us. She laid a hundred-dollar bill on the table and said, "My husband Chris has ALS and he's decided he wants to devote the rest of his life to spreading kindness in the world. He would like each of your daughters to take $50 and use it to do something kind, and then tell us about what they did. Would they be willing to do that?" Cate and Anna said "Sure!" and we sent them over to thank Chris. Later, we talked about what they might do with the money, and before long, the village came up as a possibility. We decided that I would talk to Fodei and see if there was a way to do something for the children of the village.
Fodei and I talked a few days later, and after he discussed it with some others in the village, he recommended the thanksgiving celebration, with special focus on the children. The money would be used to buy enough rice to feed the whole village, and there would be cookies and chocolates for the smaller children, a rare treat. The school uniforms we were already planning to give to the older children could be given that day as well. The girls agreed that this would be a good use of the money, and the date was set. We wired the money to Fodei and he purchased everything.
As Fodei told me later, on the day of the celebration, the whole town gathered early in the morning at the barrie, an open, roofed meeting space. Fodei and Munir each talked to the crowd about the purpose of the event, and about Chris and his desire to spread kindness in the world. Then the food was divided among everyone, and the women went to their fires to cook it. After all was prepared, everyone went to Friday prayers, and then, everyone gathered once more in the barrie. They were joined by visitors from other nearby villages as well. There were Christians and Muslims from various sects. The Imams read passages from the Q'uran about kindness and generosity towards others. Then the small children were called to the front to receive their treats and their share of the food, followed by the older children. Gradually, the food was shared with everyone, and they all celebrated together. Some of the schoolchildren had made signs thanking Chris, so they could be shared with him in pictures via e-mail.
We are all looking forward to seeing those pictures. I'm sure there are more details from the day that haven't been shared yet, as well. We will forward those to Chris and his family. His ability to turn his focus toward others, and create opportunities for them, in the face of his own monumental challenge, is indeed inspiring.
The coda to this is that Chris wants to get kids to submit a three-minute video telling what they would do with $50 to spread kindness, and then have them make another short video about what they did, as a way to inspire others and show how much can be done with a relatively modest sum. He asked Cate and Anna to help make the introductory video. So they got to talk about what went on in the village and also do a spot inviting other kids to participate. They had a wonderful time, and it will be fun to see the finished version. SC
To learn more about Chris Rosati and his projects, visit inspiremedianetwork.org .