Words are powerful and carry the potential to change people's lives. One man never forgot a message from his late mother, and the simple sentence inspired him to do something incredible.
Kind gestures might seem insignificant to one person, but often they can be the very thing that gives someone else hope and inspiration to carry on.
We don't always recognize the impact of our deeds, but our actions have ripple effects, and sometimes we can be the miracle in a stranger's life—one man from Midway, Florida, was precisely that for thousands of people.
An older man holding money while sitting at a restaurant table. | Source: Getty Images
THE STRANGER WAS UP TO SOMETHING
Kevin Cate was enjoying a meal at Waffle House in July 2022 when something surprising caught his eye. He noticed an older man seated a few tables away, and the stranger's actions intrigued him.
Cate couldn't still his curiosity, so he approached the man and asked him what he was up to. The answer left him speechless, and he knew he needed to share it with the world.
HE HAD BEEN DOING IT FOR YEARS
The man who opted to remain unnamed was attaching $1 and $5 bills to small printed notes. Cate discovered that the older adult had been attaching money to pieces of paper for many years. Cate shared:
"Saw this man sitting by himself at a Waffle House in Midway, Florida. So I said hello and asked him what he was doing with that money."
Since 2014, the older man had given away more than $13,000 to customers at his favorite Waffle House and other establishments. Cate asked the man about the messages he was attaching to the money, and again he was left stunned.
SHARING AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE
The older man shared the same inspiration with everyone, and it was a few simple but powerful words. The notes encouraged people to "Love Everybody."
While the older man chose to gift people a few extra dollars, the significance of his actions was found in the note.
The older man explained why that phrase was so important to him—it was the last thing his mom told him before she passed away. The man expressed: "She didn't say 'I love you.' She said, 'Love everybody.' So that's what I'm doing."
THE ONLINE REACTION
Cate shared his experience with the older man online, which quickly went viral. Many people thanked him for reminding them of the often unseen beauty in the world. One user wrote:
"I just needed to tell you thank you for posting this. Ever since my sister was killed in the Boise mall shooting, it feels as though a snow ball effect has taken all of the light from the world."
They revealed that the Twitter thread had helped them "remember the lights still here." Others shared similar stories that inspired numerous netizens.
MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
One person applauded the older man's actions and added their own story about how they would make the world a better place if they had more money. They noted:
"Just two nights ago my nephew asked me what I would do if I won the lottery and had lots of money. I told him I would first put billboards up all across the country that said simply: Love Thy Neighbor."
Another user shared their friend's experience with homelessness and how it shifted his perspective. The commenter said: "[My friend] says he always gives a couple of bucks to others. [It's] nothing to him, [but] might be everything to them."
LOVE AND KINDNESS ALWAYS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Making a difference in the world doesn't need to be attached to monetary value. While the older man chose to gift people a few extra dollars, the significance of his actions was found in the note.
The elderly man's message of love is what changed lives. As one online user aptly shared:
"Wow you have no idea how much I needed to read this. So much time spent doom scrolling on Twitter and feeling so sad and helpless about life. I forget the joy I have felt from helping those in need."
Cate also highlighted the love of the older man's mother and how it remained with him after her passing—and now, it impacts the rest of the world.
The older man's actions inspired many to have faith in humankind again. He displayed the impact a random act of kindness can have and encouraged us to do something for our fellow friends, family, and strangers.
What do you think about his noble deeds? Click here for another story about a Good Samaritan. A flight attendant handed a grieving mother a life-changing letter. It meant the world to her because she was on her way to bury her son.
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