Monday, November 26, 2012


Steve and Tyra, Thanksgiving 2007
Five years ago, Steve was driving me, Cooper, 6, and Katie, 2, home from our annual Thanksgiving visit with the Jones family in Austin. (We would often joke that our wedding vows should have included Steve promising me that he would always drive on road trips. I don't love driving.)

Somewhere near Waco, we started to piece together all of his odd symptoms.

Constant headache that Tylenol couldn't resolve.
Difficulty swallowing thin liquids.
Slightly slurred speech.
Frequent hiccups.

"You should call your doctor on Monday," I said.

"You're right," he said.

I also remember Steve telling stories about high school friends, antics and parties. We laughed a lot.

It was the last time that Steve would drive us home from Austin.

The next Thanksgiving I drove our family of four to Austin and back.

And the following year, we faced Thanksgiving without Steve. And again. And again. And this year again.

No matter how many times I'm on the road back from Austin, when we pass through Waco, I think of that 2007 conversation. I don't even try to fight back the wave of sadness. And I welcome the memories of our laughter -- pure joy with no idea of the sorrow to come.

Tyra, Cooper and Katie, Thanksgiving 2012
Steve's candle, Thanksgiving 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

44 Acts of Kindness

Hundreds of you made Steve's birthday, Nov. 4, a truly awesome day. Thank you!

Midweek I tried to count the reported acts of kindness in memory of Steve. There were at least 350! And those were just the acts emailed or texted or posted to Facebook. (If I accidentally missed blogging yours, I'm sorry!)

My sister, Melane, sent me a note that night that captures part of what made the day so special:

"I just can't stop reading all the Acts! I keep thinking ... So many people are being touched today, but no one person would be able to come close to Steve's reaction to it all. He wouldn't be able to stop the genuine feel-goodness. He'd be smile-crying all day. He'd be so happy his cute cheeks would hurt for a week. He'd be speechless."

Save the date now: 45 Acts of Kindness on Nov. 4, 2013.

"He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, 
and to walk humbly with your God?"
(Micah 6:8)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 24

Angela in Allen:

"Today was a big AOK day for us. I picked up lunch for the 2 ladies who run our book fair (and are there pretty much all week). E got her hair cut to donate to Locks of Love. And we bought a restaurant gift card for a family at our school who recently lost their mom (at age 38, to cancer). I love that my kids have such a giving spirit!"

E before
E after


From Tom in New York:

"Still haven't been able to use my 44 acts card, but I did donate to Cup of Joe for a Joe."


From Sarah in Frisco:

"I am a little late to the party, but I have been thinking long and hard about my act of kindness.  I did not forget on Sunday, but buying the meal of the people behind me or picking up newspapers didn't seem like what I felt I should do.  Those are wonderful acts and much appreciated, but I wanted to push myself a little bit harder.  Finally this week a friend posted on Facebook that Frisco ISD is in need of parent mentors for children in our district.  I immediately knew that this could be my good deed in honor of Steve.  This is out of my comfort zone, yet something I have often thought about doing.  I have contacted the program and will go through training next week.  And today (albeit even more late!) I took lunch up to the school for Holland's teacher and Holland who has earned the privilege to eat lunch with her teacher from her good behavior stickers.  Holland broke her arm two weeks ago and is fully casted on her right side.  Her teacher has been so sweet about all of my concerns and helps Holland buy and carry her lunch each day, so I did the same for her today!"


From Leigh in Plano:

"On Sunday I ran an errand for my stepmother that she repeatedly said she would do herself (but hadn't).  She was very grateful.

Then in the drivethru at Starbucks I paid for the caramel macchiato ordered by the woman in the car behind me.

The interesting thing was, the Starbucks was near Steve's old high school. I wonder how many times the cashier heard the phrase "44 acts of kindness" that day?"


From Melissa in The Colony:

"Saw a post on the community FB page...someone in need of boxes. Realized I had many saved...I reached out to share, and shared with my 44 Acts of kindness card and a note to pass it on."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 23

From the Kosifou family in England:

"Hello, we live in the South of England, and heard about you from a friend at the digichick forum (Tracy) - and we wanted to join in  too! We were actually away from home on the day, so my daughters and I (ages 8 and 6) looked around us for little things we could do. 

We held doors open for people, and let others go in front of us (even when it meant they didn't get to be first in line, or choose the thing they wanted most). They also smiled at people we passed in the car, and played with a grizzly baby so the mum had a moment of peace. Small things I know, but sweet and helpful things, and all done with a smile and a happy heart. 

This such a beautiful way to remember someone you love, thank you for the opportuity to do a good deed for a good reason! ~ Corrin, Ella and Eden"


From Patti in Carrollton:

"Shared the note with an attached KitKat bar to my Stephen Ministry class.  Shared the birthday wish to perform a random act of kindness.  Also shared how inspirational the blog is.    THANKS for sharing the journey..."


From Jan in Colorado:

"I bought the soldiers behind me lunch."


From Linda in Dallas:

"Just took time to read all the posts. Marvelous! Maybe you could have a version of the note that could be done on business cards for people to use year-round. Make "a Steve Damm kindness" a household name! 

One more tiny act to add (and I hope it makes you laugh): After donating early to the Pine Ridge, S.D., team headed to the NY marathon to raise money for a reservation youth center, I thought an opportunity for another random act would present itself Sunday. But that didn't happen. So today I offered to chop onions for my mother's lunch salad -- even though I loathe the smell of onions! It made her happy "


From the Sweckard family in Frisco:

"Thank you for inspiring our family and for sharing Steve’s story. We are enjoying reading about the many acts of kindness done in his honor.  Last Friday, Scarlett, our 5 year old, donated all of the gifts she received for her 5th birthday party to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.

In addition, since we are from New York, and have lots of family living there, we made a donation to the Red Cross in memory of Steve to be put towards the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief."


From Kathy in Carrollton:

"I paid for the items being purchased by a young mother and her three children at CVS.   I butted in ahead of them as they got to the counter - ( and they were so nice about me butting in ahead of them!! ), and then there were shocked to realize I was actually butting in to pay for their items.   
Thank you for encouraging us all to do things like this.  It was a privilege to honor Steve's memory."


From Angela in Allen:

"Today I only managed to take cookies to our crossing guard and M's teacher, but I've still got more acts of kindness up my sleeve..."


From Ana in Wisconsin:

"I mentioned yesterday that I intended to continue to pass the kindness (school being closed on the weekends and all). I also wanted to finish the final three acts of kindness intended to honor both Steve and my dad. To round out the celebration, here are the acts I 'committed' today.
5) When I first started my student teaching, I spent time with the students during recess. Many of the students play four-square and soccer - but the soccer balls were a bit "well-worn." I dropped off three new balls for recess. This was just a small token to repay the kindness the school and its students have shown me.

6) To make up for all the candy I have brought to school lately, I decided to bring in a healthier option for teachers and students who visit our classroom with a small assortment of fruit. I was so happy to see the students asking for the apples and pear even though the pumpkin holding the leftover Halloween candy was just inches away.

7) I have been working at another school in the after-school program since April. Every day, these students greet me with bone-crushing hugs and cheers of "Miss Ana!" How can I not feel loved? I brought in two new games for them today - Cooties and Ants in the Pants. Watching them enjoy these old favorites made me giggle.

8) Ok, it's more than seven - but this kindness thing is addictive. My final stop tonight was to stop by my friend's house to drop off a Starbucks gift card and flowers. Krissie has been a wonderful friend to me over the last few years and busy schedules have kept us apart for a long time - even though we live just miles away from one another. I intended to "drop and dash" but ended up spending three hours with her and her amazing family (and got tamales to take home as an added bonus).

Tyra, I'm lucky to be blessed with such great family and friends; my health; a new career as a special education teacher; a dog and two cats who love to cuddle with me and so much more. I have been the receiver of so many great kindnesses and know how even something little can go a long way. I truly believe I have gotten back so much more than I have given these last two days. Thank you for letting me be a part of this wonderful event - and count me in for AOK 2013!"

From Mandy in Frisco:

"Yesterday, I brought my Girl Scout co-leader a much needed Sonic drink, tonight I bought Starbucks for the car behind me, and Bridgette and I are going to take some goodies with us to the Cystic Fibrosis clinic at Children's on the 20th for the doctors and nurses."


From Stephanie in Keller:

"Today I was at Walmart and the girl in front of me told the cashier that she only had $22. Her bill was $22.60. I handed the cashier a $1 and told her to give the change to the girl. The gentleman was grateful that he didn't have to wait for her to dig for the change. I was happy that I made someone (actually 3 people smile) It was a $1 but you could tell that it meant a lot more than that to the girl in front of me!"


From Jeanene in Frisco:

"A friend of my husband was out out sick with for over a month. As a random act of kindness he left a gift card to their favorite restaurant so they can enjoy a nice meal."

Monday, November 5, 2012

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 22

From Jeanne in Carrollton:

"My husband and I spent yesterday with the two children of dear long-term friends while they attended the NASCAR race.  They live in Austin and have no family in the state.  We’re the closest thing and consider them like a brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew.  Their 11-year-old son has autism, so our friends don't often get to spend time together alone as a married couple.  Their 13-year-old daughter is incredibly accepting of and loving toward her brother, but often has revise or share what she wants to do for his sake.  She seemed to really enjoy a trip with me to the mall to shop for teen clothes without any real schedule or agenda.  Everyone had smiles on their faces when they came together at the end of the day!!"


From Kristin in Frisco:

"Today I picked up Nothing Bundt Cakes for the sweet woman that guards the gate into my parents neighborhood, the sweet couple that cleans my house and Dave's wonderful admin at work - All delivered with the "Steve" note attached. Love the yearly reminder to pay it forward, Tyra. Thanks for including us once again!"


From Stephanie in Frisco:

"I purchased coffee for the car behind me in line at Starbucks this morning in honor and memory of Steve.  I kept my niece and nephew (ages 2 and 3 months) all day yesterday which might be considered an act of kindness in itself :) but it kept me from being able to get out and about yesterday like I had hoped.  Anyway, I read your posts throughout the day and I wanted you to know what an AWESOME way I think this is for you and your kids to honor Steve on his birthday each year.  I know he is smiling down on all three of you!"


From Christie in Frisco:

"Bought gift cards at the local consignment shop and asked the sweet ladies there to give them away as they see fit. Left the paper and Steve's story for them to share. Have to say, we were all in tears when I left."


Last night the doorbell rang at the Damm house. By the time we got to the door, there was no one there. But there was this sweet note for Cooper and Katie and a gift card for dinner.


From Renee:

"We were somewhat housebound today [Sunday], but did make it out to lunch at a local restaurant. While there, I noticed a waiter who was working very hard and I celebrated Steve's life by thanking him and handing him a tip on the way out the door. We have decided to do one random act of kindness for the next 44 days in honor of Steve. Thank you for sharing Steve's story and giving us the opportunity to be a part of celebrating his life."


From Bert and Cameron in Frisco:

"We were so inspired by your friend’s story, we donated a bag of dog food Sunday to Collin County Cast-A-Ways. They were out in front of PetCo (on Eldorado near the Target). That was our random-act-of-kindness for the day."  

44 Acts of Kindness: A reply

One of Cooper's teachers last year was Jana.

Jana's sister is Amy.

Amy and her family live in Missouri.

Yesterday afternoon I posted this note from Amy:

"My husband and I paid for the people behind us at Mc Donald's in Ozark, MO. Later today, we are taking dinner to our next door neighbor whose wife is in the hospital.

I forgot to print the note to leave at the drive thru this morning, so I had to hand write the message. I only know this man & family through my sister, Jana Shilson. However, his story has impacted my life two years in a row now. I was reading the note aloud for my husband as I was writing and couldn't finish for the tears starting to build. I am grateful to be part of such a wonderful mission! Prayers for you and your family from all the way in Missouri! :)"

A few hours later, I received this note (reprinted with permission):

Hello Mrs. Damm,

My name is Maria S., I am eighteen years old and I live in St.Louis. Last night I went to springfield to visit my friends who go to Missouri State. This morning as I was getting ready to leave springfield and come home I stopped by McDonalds to get some food. I was dreading the 3 hour drive home and I had to buy gas that wasn't cheap. Being a college student, I am basically broke. My dad just lost his job and my mom does her best to keep our family finacially stable with her job. I have two older sisters who are in college also. As I was waiting in the drive through I kept thinking about how stressed I was about school and how I didn't really need the mcdonalds and that the money I was spending on it could be used for something more important. The car in front of me seemed to be taking a while to pick up their food and pay and I just wanted to get on the road and be home. When it was my turn to go up to pay at the window the lady working there said to me, "The man in the car in front of you has paid for your meal and wants me to give you this" and she handed me a note (attached to this email) that explained why he decided to pay for my meal and told me about Steve. My day was made and I was in complete shock. As an 18 year old, I needed something as small as that to open my eyes and see the truly beautiful people out in the world. Steve was watching over me, a stranger to him, at that moment and all I could do was smile. All my stress was gone and I was in a better mood. I'm not sure if you know the man who did that act of kindness for me, but if you do tell him I said thank you. It truly did mean the world to me. Steve and the family are all in my prayers and it feels great to know that he is up in heaven watching over everyone with a warm heart. I learned how great of a guy he was just in that short note. I am inspired to keep his legacy going and I will do many acts of kindness in memory of him.

I am also sorry for your loss. I have experienced a heartbreaking loss this summer. I understand what it means to have a life cut so short. My boyfriend of over an year lost his little brother this summer. He was hit and killed by a train at 14 years old, only two days into his summer vacation. His name is Cam V. and he reminds me a lot of Steve. He always put others before him and made sure people felt great about themselves. He would stick up for the kids being bullied and tell the young girls with self esteem issues that they were amazing and beautiful. His smile was perfect and he used that to help many people through tough times. The pain is unbearable, but I know that he is in a better place. He is watching over everyone and still making sure that everyone feels loved. Today made me feel amazing knowing that Cam and Steve are up in heaven together shining down on us and doing amazing things. They are both greatly missed.

Thank you,
Maria S.

Thank you, Amy, for taking care of a stranger! And thank you, Maria, for sharing your story!

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 21

From Will in McKinney:

"Conor is helping his first-year teacher fill her class library with a gift card to Half Price Books in honor of his Uncle Steve."


From Haley in Carrollton:

"In honor of Steve I will be donating some lightly used clothing, stuffed animals, and hand knit scarves/hats to Our local Christian Community Action center."


From Tara in Dallas:

"I left brownies for the support staff (custodians, clerks, etc.) at school."

"Paid for the car behind me at Starbucks. The barista loved the concept of the Acts of Kindness event and gladly posed with the sign!"


From Erin in Dallas:

"Gave my neighbors my favorite chocolate cherry toffee cookies. :-)"


From Vicki in Carrollton:

"I left money on a vending machine, and bought breakfast for someone. Rick picked up a hubcap from the middle of Hebron Rd.

So thankful to participate in this event to honor Steve."


From Larie in Carrollton:

"One tiny thing I did yesterday at Target was give my basket to the lady behind me and get another one for myself. It's a small thing, but I never think to do things like that, and maybe I will be more conscious of my surroundings. Thanks for giving us all an opportunity to think differently."


From Karen in Atlanta:

"We continued through Monday by bringing in bagels & donuts to work to appreciate our team of social workers who work with children in foster care."

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 20

From Celeste in Frisco:

"I gave a Subway gift card to the teen cashier who checked me out at Kroger yesterday. It was great to see his reaction, almost as if he won the lottery. I'm also leaving an Olive Garden gift card for the mailman to pickup today."


From Alma in Arlington:

"The office and maintenance staff at my apartment complex are wonderful people. To thank them for being so kind to me, I baked them cookies made from a recipe that was in the November community newsletter. While on a baking streak, I also made some banana bread to take to work on Tuesday. Election night in the newsroom ... You know how that is! Inspired a bit more, I donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief. Thank you, Tyra, for inviting me to celebrate Steve this way. I wish I had known him. And thanks for reminding us all to be good to one another."


From Nancy in Nashville, who donated to the American Red Cross in memory of Steve:

"I didn't want the day to pass without participating, and another participant gave me an idea for a worthy outlet. The stories you're posting are so heart-warming for all who read them! -- XXOO, N. (and Sarah, too!)"


From Kelly in Frisco:

"I just wanted to let you know that my act of kindness in honor of Steve was giving a custodial lady, working the Kroger parking lot, unnoticed, a small amount of cash. I thanked her for working hard, then I gave her a hug. She was stunned. I briefly told her about Steve & why I wanted to show kindness. :)"


From Ana in Mansfield:

"I'm in awe of all the people who have posted on here. My act of kindness is one that I cannot write about, but suffice it to say that it lightened the load for one family, without putting them in the spotlight... the every day things that we do, like babysitting so that someone can take a few hours break from caring for a special needs child; or volunteering in the nursery at church; remind us that it truly is the thought behind the deed that spreads the love. Thank you, Tyra, for allowing us to share with you in this way."


From Lauren in Frisco:

"Greg surprised me by painting a room I've wanted painted for almost a year, I turned junk Into treasure & left it on my friends front porch as a surprise 'sussy' and my kids sent love notes to my dad, a recent widower."


From Jeannie in Coppell:

"Taking donuts to cafeteria staff (our unsung heroes) bright and early Monday."


From Minda in Lewisville:

"Try as I might, I truly received more than I gave yesterday. However, I did make sure the kitchens in the office had fresh coffee and the printers were fully stocked with paper early last Friday and this morning. We are big coffee drinkers here and the early birds print their reports first thing. Hope it makes Monday morning easier... (In memory of Steve's kindness)"

Sunday, November 4, 2012

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 19

From Bruce in Plano:

"Patty and I attended a church concert in Oak Lawn featuring a choir that includes a young friend. Her parents drove in from Laredo just to hear her. We got there early (uncharacteristic for us) and reserved spots in the front row for our friend's parents. They beamed at her throughout the concert, as if hers were the only voice they heard."


From Laura in Oklahoma:

"My sister drove 3+ hours (6-7 round-trip) today to provide support, strength and encouragement to a family member in need."


From the Strader family in Frisco:

"1. We bought pizza for the night crew of Rambling Oaks to thank them for their care of our families.

2. We adopted an elderly person at Rambling Oaks whom has no family and has never had even one visitor in the 3 years she has lived there. She is declining and lately has poor memory, poor hygiene and is very lonely. She will have her hair done this week and her apartment cleaned and Christmas presents bought this year, all in memory of Steve."


Katie put together small bags of candy and delivered them to neighbors' homes.


From Sharon of Dallas:

"I went to the cemetery to check on the flowers on Mom's plot ... And I tidied up all the other flower arrangements and turned-over vases, etc. on all the 'needy' plots in a big swath of the cemetery.  I said prayers 'for Steve, Mom and the families of those plots i worked on all the while. It felt good."


From Chelsea in Plano:

"This is not anything colossal, but I went over to my grandparent's house this evening and did their dishes after their company left. Love to you and the kiddos! Xo!"


Elizabeth in Dallas made a donation in memory of Steve to the American Red Cross.


From Sharon in Lewisville:

"My family helped out in the acts of kindness as I was under the weather - My son Devon helped out in the Sunday school class. Zach worked with Tyra to leave notes and pick up trash. 

I did get out for a little errand today and made sure to compliment people as I saw them - one I especially remember is a muslim girl who had on a beautiful headdress at Sprouts - I know many people show some prejudice to these people so I made a special effort to tell her how beautiful her headdress was - the smile on her face was one I will try to bring to others often. Remember everyone one of the easiest acts of kindness that we can do every day is to compliment a complete stranger, its free and its amazing what it does for them. 

I also told my family someday when I pass on this is my last wish - for them to celebrate my life with acts of kindness - there is no better way to remember someone than with Love. Thanks for sharing the experience with all of us! And Steve although I never got to know you - your children and your wife show acts of kindness every day and I know you are looking down on them and filling their hearts as well as all of ours. God has blessed us all through you.


From Stephanie in Seattle:

"Today I gave flowers to a neighbor that I do not know very well but admire.

I know Steve is proud of you for putting this together... So am I.  :)"


From Mary in Bedford:

"Went to Wal-Mart this evening for a few things, but also in hopes of finding someone who might need a 'Steve' boost. Saw a very, very beat-up car in a handicapped-parking spot (yes, the car had a qualifying license plate) and slipped an envelope with a '44 Acts of Kindness' flier and $20 inside under the windshield wiper. Hoping it lifts that person's spirits as much as it did mine."


From Julie in Kenedy:

"Our 'pay it forward' was giving stew to older members at church and donating to youth 4-H."

44 Acts of Kindness: Part 18

From the Calandro family in Frisco:

"Happy birthday Steve! Today we left an extra tip for our waiter and then later bought the person's meals behind us in line at raising cane's. :) yep we ate out twice today! "


The Keiser family passed out drinks at Warren during soccer and baseball games with Steve's note attached.


Brighton made homemade treats for her brother's whole baseball team today since Steve's note said he loved baseball.


From Carrie in Plano:

"Whole family did the Dallas Down Syndrome Buddy walk today. Went to lunch and gave the waitress a great tip. Unable to donate blood this year but did get to do Communion today at our 9:45 service. Love reading what others have done."


From Debi in Portland:

"Taking four friends to a Cat Power concert tonight!"


From Linda:

"I donated money to buy two poinsettias to be given as door prizes for First Baptist Church luncheon for senior adults. The poinsettias raise money for scholarship for Killeen ISD seniors. Another donation is for the church's Freebie Wednesday program for free lunch for high school students."


From Bret:

"My day was consumed by soccer so I let our bench players start a game and it made the boys very happy. On the way home we ordered pizza and picked it up so gave a nice tip to the staff and they were surprised."


From Garrett in Frisco:

"Gave an extra generous tip to our waiter at brunch."


From Kimberly:

"Made a two mile u-turn (I was in the wrong lane to reach him!) to go back and give the largest bill in my wallet to a homeless man holding a sign that said, 'Good Karma 50 cents.' "


From Susan:

"I spent time talking to a lonely elderly man without worrying about the time. I didn't leave until he was ready for me to go."


From Amy:

"Gave a gift card to a shopper at Albertsons (the woman asked 'how and why?!') and anonymously bought a couple dessert for dinner (hope they're enjoying it right now)."


From Bledsoe teacher Wendi:

"This is what we did today for our act of kindness [donation to the Red Cross]. We are on a strict budget, but felt called to give something to help those in need on the East Coast. Made pumpkin bread to give out to teachers at Sophie's school tomorrow, too."


From Meredith:

"Homemade soup to a neighbor today. More kindness tomorrow. No political bashing - another act of kindness I intend to maintain through election night."


From Nancy:

"Took a birthday card and flowers to one of the members of our congregation who is in a long term rehab center."