In 2014 my family took an 18-day trip to 20 states (in the shape of a heart across America). During this trip, we did 1,000 acts of kindness. And then, I wrote an ebook about it. Which you can find here.
Let’s go back to the original idea behind this trip. Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally in the best place in life, and I wanted a bigger purpose for myself. I had been looking through Kickstarter and wanted to do something BIG like all these other cool projects I saw. So somehow, I came up with the idea that we would travel the United States in the shape of a heart. I decided to do the trip in 20 days because I knew that was the maximum time I could request off at work. And because it was 20 days, I guess I decided on 20 states.
I wanted to fundraise for the trip, but not really to pay for the trip. I had some BIG ideas that we didn’t get to do, but the idea was that the trip would be a BIG acts of kindness through a LARGE number of people… and that my family would just be the vessel of kindness.
However, ALL of my fundraising plans were a bust. I did not raise enough on Kickstarter to keep the money. And, I worked really hard on a fundraiser party that had snacks and karaoke at this really cool venue, but only a handful of people came. It was a lot of fun, and the kids and I had a blast that evening… but ultimately the idea of this book being funded by a lot of people didn’t work out at all.
I ended up using most of our tax returns that year to take the trip and commit acts of kindness. And it was a very tight budget to work with. In some places, gas was close to $5.00, we had five people to feed three times a day, and hotels to pay for. I wanted to go bigger. But we had to make it home.
However, even if my fundraising efforts failed, and I didn’t have the original vision of a multitude of kindness coming from backers, we still met lots of people along our journey to show us kindness and help me write this story.
In Savannah, Georgia, a local news cameraman asked if Alex wanted to help him with a weather segment he was working on. It was super exciting for a 10-year-old! Also, people randomly gave us a little bit of cash, even when we were not asking for money. And there were lots more moments along the way.
Before I share the original blog post from that day, I wanted to look back at some other little things that make me smile when thinking about this trip.
First, look at how little my kids were!! Now they are basically full-grown men (well almost anyway). I miss them being this little. I wish I could have slowed down and enjoyed this part of their life even longer.
Second, it’s kind of silly, but the waffle at the hotel was such a cool thing for me! I loved the show Parks and Recreation, and Leslie Knope was such an inspirational character, and her love for waffles was so relatable. Now we travel a lot more and see waffles at every hotel we stop at. But that first waffle maker was a game-changer for me. It’s funny the things that pull at our sentimental strings.
Last, if I ever do this kind of trip again, I will take my time. There are so many amazing things we saw in such a short span of time, and I am so thankful for those things. But there is so much more I want to see, and I think resting in each space will help us enjoy the journey more, and be able to contribute more acts of kindness…. maybe someday I’ll be rich and be able to do that lol.
Here is the blog entry I wrote on the second day of the trip:
Day 2: Savannah, Georgia
We are on day 2 and are in our 3rd state.
Right now I am sitting at the very small table of a very retro Days Inn hotel room in Manning, South Carolina praying that the bad weather doesn’t affect our travel plans tomorrow.
(Just look at that carpet, it looks like it came straight out of the Brady Bunch’s neighborhood)
The weather is actually quite pleasant at the moment…but there is a “winter storm” that is supposed to hit tomorrow with storm and ice; neither of which we are accustomed to driving in.
But let’s get back to today!
Today was amazing.
Our hotel had free waffles….always cool.
We left a $20 tip for the housekeeper. This is kind of huge for the budget we are running on…lol.
(Kind act #4 of 1,000).
Then we headed to beautiful Downtown Savannah.
We then committed our next 110 acts of kindness: 100 free wishes at the fountain, and the kids handing out 10 bags of candies and candles for peace to people passing by.
I am especially proud of Alex (my 10-year-old) today.
Alex was so excited and helpful handing out bags of candies; even when people weren’t exactly receptive to the idea of something nice happening to them with no cost involved.
Today we offered a lot more kind moments than the ones that were actually received.
People told the kids no because they thought there was cost involved. Some voluntarily gave Alex donations, even though he didn’t ask for any.
Someone even asked Alex if he was doing this through a church. Which would have totally been fine, but I think the assumption really proves something.
People in our country have become skeptical of just pure kindness. We feel like it has to be accompanied by a reason, a charity, or a dying wish.
But it doesn’t have to be.
If I can prove one thing with this trip, it’s that kindness does not have to come with a cost. We should be able to love and care for all of mankind without have any hidden notions.
I truly believe that there are people out there who believe the same.
Those are the ones who will pay it forward.
Those are the ones who will tell their stories.
Those are the ones who will make this trip worth it.
Anyways, I wanted to share that Alex’s kind acts today didn’t go unnoticed.
After offering a bag of candy to a local news channel cameraman, Alex got to be on the news (for just a weather tease completely unrelated to this trip).
So thank you to the kind cameraman who made my son’s day. You will never know how much that meant to me, and my very happy 10-year-old boy.
All in all, we had a great day.
We’ve made it to 114 acts of kindness and we are in state number 3. Plus, I think the kids really enjoyed themselves.
Thanks for reading! Have a great night 🙂
Thank you guys for reading my blog(s)! Hope you have a beautiful day. I’m off to walk another 8 miles today (I’ve already walked 2). I am trying to earn “The Shire” medal from The Conqueror challenge. I have 31.99 miles left to walk before the end of this week to make my total goal of 145 miles in 56 days.
What are you guys up to today?
Love you all,