In the beginning of January, Rebecca Somers boarded a plane in State College, Pennsylvania, heading for Detroit, Michigan.
She had no idea that what she was about to witness on that airplane would give her a voice reaching hundreds of thousands of people, reminding them to hold onto kindness.
Here's her story.
"True story: As I sat on the plane, I talked with an autistic little girl who has braces on both of her legs. She kept saying hello to me and telling her mom that I was her 'Spanish Teacher, Ms. Cindy.' (I am a teacher, but she didn't know that.) She introduced me several times to her bear, who was named Kindness. I couldn't help but notice how kind the mother was to her daughter. She redirected her several times, kept telling her to hold her voice down, and held her hand on take-off and landing.
Once we reached the gate, the mother quickly grabbed their things and tried to get her to the front. As they made their way forward, everyone could hear the mother saying 'Hold on to Kindness. Hold on to Kindness,' reminding her daughter to hug the bear tightly. Naturally my tender heart wanted to cry out to everyone on the plane, 'Did you hear what she said? Hold on to Kindness!'
The joy this little girl spread made me think of our world and how we all just need to 'hold on to kindness.'
I talked with the mom coming up the ramp off the plane and told her what a great job she's doing with her daughter. She made several remarks, and I told her I knew it had to be tiring, but thanked her for being consistent (the teacher part of me came out). She then told me the little girl was going to have surgery on her legs to correct them. But then she also told me how she (the mom) is battling brain cancer and how exhausting her treatments are. My heart sank. I assured her that she would be in my continual thoughts and prayers and how she and her daughter taught everyone a lesson today: 'Hold on to Kindness, you never know what another person is going through.'"
Rebecca got off the plane and knew this interaction was too good to keep to herself. She posted the story on Facebook where more than 200,000 people shared it, spreading the message to hold on to kindness. About 24 hours after she posted this story, Rebecca found the mom, Nicole, and her daughter, Lillie, and was pleased to hear that surgery had been scheduled for little Lillie's legs.
Rebecca, who is actually from Tennessee, says she is humbled and honored by the messages and prayer requests she has received. She says, "Just remember every day you show kindness, you are being a blessing. More to come, until then #holdontokindness."
A donation page has been created for Nicole and Lillie at https://www.youcaring.com/nicolewebster-1059917.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.