David Bruce: The Kindest People: Be Excellent to Each Other (Volume 5)(Free PDF)

1. Will You be My Stepdaughter?”

On 1 December 2013, Jeff Andres, a pediatric physical therapist who lives in Flint, Michigan, celebrated his 34th birthday. At the party, he proposed to Shana Warner, a 28-year-old corrections nurse at a local prison, who said, “I knew something was up when he asked me to stand up as well. He told me that all he wanted for his birthday was me, and then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.” Ms. Warner’s six-year-old daughter, Ally, was delighted. Ms. Warner said, “She asks us all the time when we’re getting married.” Mr. Andres and Ms. Warner did not want Ally to feel left out, and so a few days later, on 7 December 2013, Mr. Andres made a different kind of proposal to Ally just after she had talked to Santa Claus at Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Ms. Warner said, “Just as Ally had finished telling Santa what she wanted for Christmas, Jeff said, ‘Hold on, Santa. There’s one more thing.’ He got down on one knee and asked Ally to be his stepdaughter.” She said yes, and he gave her a $45 ring with a diamond flower. Ally offered Mr. Andres a dollar as thanks, but he declined to accept it. The wedding is scheduled for 7 March 2015; Ally will be a junior bridesmaid.

2. Shooting Hoops with an NBA Guard

In December 2013, four neighborhood elementary-school-aged boys knocked on the door of an NBA player — Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette — and asked him to come out and shoot baskets with them. For an hour, Mr. Fredette and the four boys shot baskets in a driveway. Mr. Fredette, who had not met the four boys before they knocked on his door, said, “They had some good courage to go up and talk to me and ask me to do that. I don’t know if I would have had the courage at that age to do that.” Jim “T-Bone” Cole, one of the boys, said, “It’s just really cool to meet somebody [famous] that you don’t have to pay. You just ask them to come over.”

3. Zach Randolph: Memphis Grizzly and Good Samaritan

Memphis (Tennessee) Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph won the November 2013 Community Assist Award from the NBA. A press release stated, “The award recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities. Kia Motors and the NBA are honoring Randolph for his continued dedication to helping underprivileged children and families in need. As a part of the NBA’s Season of Giving, Randolph distributed 900 Thanksgiving food baskets at Booker T. Washington High School and Hamilton High School in Memphis. At both events, select families received tickets from Randolph to attend an upcoming Grizzlies game. Randolph also donated 500 turkeys and 500 spiral hams to be given away to 1,000 people at the Clarence Faulkner Community Center in Marion, Ind. In addition to Thanksgiving meals, he contributed 300 winter coats to students at Memphis’ A.B. Hill Elementary.” Mr. Randolph is happy to do good deeds. He said, “I love to give back to kids in need and from single-parent homes because I was one of those kids growing up, so I feel as though I can relate. It’s a blessing for me to be able to help someone else.” In addition, a video that went viral in December 2013 showed Mr. Randolph at the sidelines of a game talking to a young boy with special needs. The young boy pointed to Mr. Randolph’s warm-up jersey, and Mr. Randolph took it off and gave it to him.

4. “I Don’t Know if You’ve Ever Had to Pick Out a Coffin for a Child. I Pray to God That Nobody Ever Has to Go Through That. It’s the Saddest Thing in the World”

Patrick Ferris sells beer at Busch Stadium, aka “Baseball Heaven” to fans of the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, Missouri. He enjoys his job: “I get to hang out with the Cardinals fans every day. Who wouldn’t love my job?” He worked Game 3 of the World Series on 26 October 2013 — a good night for tips. He did not keep the tips; he gave them away. Recently, the son of one of his best friends died in a house fire in Mehlville, Missouri. The day before Game 3 of the World Series, Mr. Ferris attended the funeral of seven-year-old Brian Davis, Jr. He even helped Brian’s father pick out a coffin: “I don’t know if you’ve ever had to pick out a coffin for a child. I pray to God that nobody ever has to go through that. It’s the saddest thing in the world.” Mr. Ferris set up a Facebook page on which people can donate to the Davis family, and he gave his tips from the World Series game to the Davis family. He said, “I just felt like I had to do something. I kept trying to call Brian [the father] … and I’m like, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ He can’t even talk right now. He still, to this day, can’t even get a word out. He’s like, ‘There’s nothing anyone can do.’ After crying for two days, myself, I just put that thing on Facebook. The only thing I could think of to do was to ask Cardinals nation for help.” He also made buttons that showed Brian, Jr., wearing a Cardinals baseball cap depicting Fredbird, the Cardinals’ mascot. Mr. Ferris said, “He was the kindest little boy you could ever imagine. Every single person that has met this little boy, he has touched their hearts. He was a huge Cardinals fan. Look at the pin. Brian, his dad, still is a huge Cardinals fan. We were born and bred. We have no choice. That’s how we were born and raised. We’re all diehard Cardinals fans. I’m hoping for a million bucks, but I’d be happy with $1,000. My main goal in all of this is that little Brian will not be forgotten. I want him to go down as the biggest Cardinals fan in history.” At least one other vendor donated his tips from Game 3 to the Davis family. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said about Mr. Ferris, “He’s a man who’s probably not gifted with glorious riches like a lot of other people in the world are. To give his extra, to give his meal money away, to help another man’s family out … it’s admirable and he’s obviously a great man to do that. We are proud of him. That’s carrying on the Cardinal tradition, isn’t it? Giving to those in need. Sometimes, when you think everything is as bad as it can get, you see other people having it a lot worse than you.” Mr. Ferris has children: 11-year-old Patrick and two-year-old Kaleigh. He said, “I was crying about it like a little baby. I called off work that night at the pizzeria, and I spent the night with my children, hugging them over and over. They probably thought I was crazy. We went over a lot of fire safety issues, like, ‘How to get out of the house if a fire happened.’ It was crazy.” He added, “I don’t care if I had 100 billion dollars, I would not give up one of my kids.”

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