Isla Quinn has changed the world.
Imperceptibly, perhaps, but there can be no question that the planet is a more connected place for her presence on it.
Reaching out, touching lives, making a difference.
Not bad for a five-month old.
If Isla is the inspiration, her father, Ryan Garcia, is the conduit for spreading a little love, throughout his neighborhood and beyond.
He calls the project 366 Random Acts of Kindness.
It’s a little like Crystal DeCoursey’s Christmas campaign, just on a much bigger scale.
You see, for each one of 2012’s days, Ryan Garcia has pledged to do at least one good deed.
To quote the charitable Chicagoan, who attributes his new-found benevolence to Isla’s arrival last Autumn, ‘I was sitting on my couch at the end of the year, thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Should I try to lose weight? Do something else predictable? I decided I wanted to do something that would inspire her in the future. I wanted to be a better person.’
It’s a commendable ambition, for sure, something to which we all should aspire.
But aspiration alone is not enough.
The remarkable bit, that Ryan is making it happen.
He is chronicling his efforts on his own blog, one that has had us all gripped in our studio, here in Saunderstown, over the last month or so.
The post headlines alone make for inspirational reading:
Day 2: Sent a letter to a soldier in Afghanistan.
Day 10: Complimented 25 strangers.
Day 11: Mentored a child in need.
Day 20: Bought breakfast for a stranger.
Day 21: Cleared snow off all the cars on my block.
Day 26: Smiled at/greeted everyone I walked past.
Day 31: Led a discussion at a Halfway House.
Day 36: Played with older cats and dogs at the Anti-Cruelty Society.
It is an astonishing effort, all the more so for that fact that Ryan’s 12-month mission still has so long to run.
To think about the lives he can touch in 2012 is staggering.
To think about the example that he is setting – to Isla and to us all – is beyond inspirational.
Ryan could be forgiven for feeling the pace, after all, he has done so much over the last month, and all this in addition to holding down a full-time job and raising his daughter.
He isn’t, however, because doing good deeds – making connections – is proving to be an energizing experience, as he likes to explain to anyone interested.
‘I never meant to do any of this for me,’ he says. ‘I just can’t believe how much I’m getting out of it. The little bit of kindness I put out seems to multiply the way it comes back to me.’
Ryan’s findings echo Rachel Scott’s beliefs.
Tragically, a teenager killed at Columbine never got to test out her theories.
But in Chicago, Ryan is proving that anyone willing to show a little compassion and kindness can start a chain reaction.
‘I tracked down my sixth-grade teacher, Mr Plecas,’ says Ryan, who is showing great ingenuity in choosing his tasks. ‘I wrote him a letter thanking him for being my favourite teacher ever. He had a way of making learning fun. I’ll never forget him and he needed to know that.’
The kind of thing that inspires our OMs, this got us all thinking in our studio.
Thinking about the people we’ve never thanked and the things we ought to have told them.
Thinking about the little things that we could do to make a difference in our world.
Thinking about people like Ryan and Rachel, and others, like Kirk and Cindy Sinclair, engaged in their own humanitarian mission.
We’d like to do more ourselves, but here in our studio, we’re much too busy, right?
To quote Ryan one last time, ‘No-one is busier than I am. I’ve got a newborn, a demanding full-time job, groups I belong to, and I work out. I’ve found out that being nice doesn’t take extra time.’
It’s a useful reminder and one that will ensure that we make a point of spreading a little love today.
Because, as Rachel Scott wrote, ‘People will never know how far a little kindness can go’.
Here in Saunderstown, we’d like to thank Isla for inspiring Ryan, and Ryan for reminding us about the important things in life.
We’d also like to wish him well as his quest continues and urge you to visit his blog and check him out on Facebook and Twitter, where for each new ‘like’ and ‘follow’, Ryan has pledged to give 10 cents to charity, proving that his benevolence knows no bounds.
Each OM created today is dedicated to Ryan Garcia.
Here’s to a remarkable man.