Dillon Hill of Sacramento earned international attention in 2018 when he dropped out of UC Davis to help his childhood friend Chris Betancourt complete a bucket list. Betancourt was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia as a young child and as a teenager in 2017 was told he had about two years to live. One of the items on the list was to break the world record for the most bone marrow donation sign-ups and because of the amount of publicity around their story, over 11,000 people joined the bone marrow registry, resulting in a match for Betancourt that saved his life.
These days, Hill is continuing to help as many people as possible put a smile on their face, at a time when smiles are more than welcome. Hill created a Live for Another documentary series, a crowdsource-funded effort where Hill tracks down positive stories of people helping people. He pins photos of his subjects on a map and has continued his efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hill lives by Fred Rogers’ advice to “always look for the helpers” in a crisis, and he’s certainly found them: a man who traveled to Amish settlements to alert them to the virus; the person dressed as Spiderman who visited neighborhood kids from a distance; the content creator who aired silly videos to make people laugh; the woman who made hundreds of masks from her home sewing machine. “Through working on all these projects I’ve discovered that it’s what makes me tick,” Hill told CMSWire. “Some people are good at sports, others good at music. When I have a spark of inspiration it’s usually a new or unique way to help other people. That’s what I appreciate about working on this: it’s my way of interacting, appreciating and getting through all the things life might throw my way.”
Hill calls himself an introvert. He wants to show others like him that they don’t have to donate $1 billion to have a positive impact on the world. “They can make some small decisions,” he said, “to change someone else’s life and improve themselves in the process.”
His favorite story so far? In December, Hill and his documentary team travelled across the country donating to kids in the hospital. “We decided what cities to visit by asking our audience to email me then we would join them in donating to their local hospital,” Hill said. “We had 15 bags full of video games and would meet our internet friends and have an awesome day making kids in the hospital happy.”
In other Good News stories …
Company Launches Video Campaign for Essential Workers
CropMobster, a people-powered marketplace for exchanging food, resources and positivity, has launched a campaign titled #LivetoShare. The campaign is a “thank you” to the essential food systems workers (farmers, food producers, food banks, delivery drivers, grocery store clerks, etc.) that are on the frontlines every day, according to Madeline Edwards, a marketing consultant for the company.
The video is narrated by the American actor Peter Coyote and is a “call to reflect” and to inspire action. It seeks to “rekindle and evoke memories and images about the power of the human community to surmount the greatest of challenges through mutual aid, neighborliness and service above self,” Edwards said. “It is a moment to honor and thank our food systems workers for making the food on our plates possible. We want as many essential food systems workers to see this video. The campaign is a thank you to the essential workers working on the frontlines every day making it possible for the food to arrive on our plates.”
Graduation Ceremonies, in Cars?
Romy Taormina just wanted to see her son Nathan, a high school senior, get a chance to be recognized in proper fashion like all outgoing high school seniors do each spring. COVID-19 has sidelined all such activities like graduation and special senior recognition nights and events.
Nathan attends Pacific Grove (Calif.) High School. The school is in a town of about 15,000 in the coastal city of Pacific Grove in Monterey County, about an hour south of San Jose. “As a mom of a senior in high school, I can tell you first-hand that ‘letting go’ of our seniors to the real world after 18 years of raising them even during ‘normal’ times is a major transition,” Taormina said. “You couple this with all the unknowns and uncertainty of Corona[virus], and it’s a whole new ball of wax filled with disappointments.”
Taormina said high school seniors — and their families and community — have been robbed of their customary experiences and rites of passage: no prom, no senior trip, no graduation night, no rally, no sports, no signing year books, and the list goes on. “The graduation ceremonies have been reduced to gut-wrenching scenes of nearly-empty auditoriums of one family with a principal. Or, no ceremony at all,” she said.
Thankfully, people are rallying to give the seniors something special. The seniors are going to get graduation at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca, a popular car and motorcycle raceway. Nathan Taormina’s school is one of about a dozen schools who will get that opportunity. They’ll celebrate from cars and get to drive around the track. “It warms my heart and so many others,” Nathan’s mom said. “It’s at its core, truly ‘community.’ It screams in a beautiful way: teamwork, generosity, creativity and compassion. It has a positive, wide-spread, and long-lasting impact for our high school seniors, their families and our community. And it will serve as a reminder that even during very challenging times, beauty can be found.”
Got any good news? We’re listening. This is not in our customary wheelhouse of digital customer experience and digital workplace news. But we’ve tossed out the playbook just a bit in favor of some weekly good news through this pandemic. We all need it now, right? Send your feel-good stories to [email protected] Check out the other pieces in our ongoing series to help keep the good vibes coming in a time of crisis.
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