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    A Touching Story: The Ripple Effect of Kind Gestures

    I recently heard about an extremely touching story that I want to share: 

    Diagnosed at five months old with a cancerous tumor on his diaphragm, two-year old Aiden Lipscomb needs a specialized form of proton radiation therapy – available in only a few medical centers around the world. But the closest one to Virginia, where the Lipscombs live, is Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Aiden’s weakened immune system prohibits his flying on a commercial airliner, with hundreds of other passengers’ germs. So Aiden’s parents turned to Sky Hope, a nonprofit service that arranges transportation for patients like Aiden on private aircraft.

    Sky Hope founder Joanne Damato uses social media to spread the word quickly when help is needed. That’s critical because of Aiden’s condition; travel windows open and close quickly.

    Within hours of Damato “broadcasting” the need for a ride for Aiden, volunteer aircraft operators, pilots, ground support organizations, and others stepped up. And their only compensation is the warmth of their own tears as they witness this courageous little man carrying on his fight.

    In hearing about this story, I was heartened to learn about how many people are helping out. Each one plays just a small part, but together they are hopefully saving Aiden’s life. Being part of this a team must feel amazingly good, even if complicated an array of intense feelings – such as hope, fear, love, sadness, determination, frustration, anxiety, and compassion.

    Although this is an incredible story of courage and caring, smaller challenges and efforts to help others happen every day. And each time someone reaches out to help another person, they actively engage in the web of connections that joins us all. In helping just one person, you inevitably help others, including yourself.

    The “others” are most likely people you are not focused on helping. They might be those who love the recipient of your help (such as Aiden’s parents and family). Sometimes those you ask for added aid in your efforts need to feel needed. Or, those who are already working with you toward your goal need that sense of connection. 

    And there’s a good chance that  at least some of the people who hear about or see your efforts will feel heartened and inspired. Just like when you toss a pebble into a lake, the ripples often undulate out beyond what you can see.

    If you appreciate the value in even small gestures (like making a crying baby laugh just when his mother is ready to “lose it” with frustration), you have an extremely valuable outlook. It can realistically help you to feel good every day about you and your connection in the world. 

    With this in mind, I’m hoping people will share the kindnesses they’ve seen or enacted. And I’d like to start with some examples of my own.

    Just yesterday, one of my sons gave his crying brother a hug and kiss — an act of caring I’m sure will be returned in the future, hopefully carrying forward and being built upon for a lifetime.  I also saw a customer in a grocery store help a stranger weigh a grain being purchased in bulk — a pleasant interaction that elicited some genuine smiles and good feelings. This interaction lasted only for a few moments, but it also set a positive mood as they moved forward to their next interactions. 

    So, what about you? What good things have you done or witnessed lately? If you would like to join a general discussion about this topic on the Relationships and Coping Community, click here.


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