Likely having no memory of his father, one young boy kept him alive by starting a movement with one tiny yet beautiful gesture.
When he was only a newborn, Myles Eckert's dad, namely Army Sergeant Andy Eckert, was killed in Iraq on May 8, 2005. His son believes he would have been a kind and fun father.
Sergeant Andy gave up his life for a cause he believed in -- a reflection of his strong character that his son has inherited through his heartfelt actions.
Myles Eckert putting his arms around his father Sergeant Andy Eckert’s gravestone [left]; Myles Eckert and Lieutenant Colonel Dailey [right]. │Source: facebook.com/CMOHSociety twitter.com/CBSEveningNews
YOUNG, WITH A KIND SOUL
In 2014, at only eight years old, Myles chose to take the selfless route after finding $20.00 in the parking lot of the restaurant Cracker Barrel in Ohio. Initially, his first instinct was to buy a toy, but instead, he chose a different route, reflecting:
“It was the right thing to do. It would be selfish if I didn’t. My mom always told me ‘kindness always wins.'"
However, he and his mother could never have imagined what this small gesture on the 8-year-old's part could have led to.
HONORING A HERO
While walking into the eatery, his heart set on buying a video game with the money he found, the young saw a man dressed in uniform, which changed his mind instantly. Speaking about his decision, he expressed:
"Because he was a soldier, and soldiers remind me of my dad."
Myles then gave the man the money, which he wrapped inside a note. Airman and Lieutenant Colonel Dailey was eating lunch with family when he received this unexpected gift, stating that it was wonderful to be recognized.
In the note, the young boy thanked the airman for his service, revealing that his father was a soldier and had passed away. Myles penned:
"I found this 20 dollars in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day."
Of course, Dailey was deeply touched by this gesture, but this simple act of kindness had an amazing and unexpected ripple effect far beyond the boy, the airman, the note, and the $20.00.
People began hearing about what Myles did and started donating money to the Eckerts, who donated it to Snowball Express.
Snowball Express is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting kids whose parents in the military did not make it.
At the time, Texas-based Highland Capital Management created a grant program connected to Snowball Express. They vowed to pay the charity up to $1 million for every donation made in Myles's name.
Many celebrities were attracted to this cause, donating hefty sums. These famous individuals included the actor Gary Sinise and Ellen Degeneres, who had the young boy on her show.
Of course, beyond the celebrities, soldiers, and charities inspired and touched by Myles, his mother was the proudest. She said:
“Get better, not bitter; kindness always wins and paying it forward. Those are the three major truths I’ve tried to instill in my children, and this is the big payoff for me.”
This boy reminds us that turning one's pain into purpose can make great things happen, even if it's doing something small to make someone's day a little better.
A BUDDING ENTREPRENEUR
Myles, resilient and kind, is not a rarity when it comes to children who surprise us with their big hearts and astounding bravery.
One 7-year-old, Liza, more than embodied this ethos when she sold lemonade to help pay for her brain surgeries that her single mom couldn't afford.
She needed a rare brain surgery due to her schizencephaly, a brain malformation, but her mom's insurance could only partially cover the procedure.
Liza set up a lemonade stand, not wanting her mother to do it all herself. Once people became aware of it, A Mighty Cause page was set up for her, where she received $15,000 and nearly $300,000
Neither Myles nor Liza allowed traumatic events to define them but instead found ways to be proactive and positive -- an attitude that sets many up for success.
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