O’FALLON, Mo. – A one-of-a-kind little girl lives on one year after her death.
The mayor of O’Fallon, Missouri declared May 3 “Random Act of Kindness Day” in his city in honor of 10-year-old Keira Stout.
The little girl has sparked a worldwide kindness movement.
O’Fallon firefighters randomly picked up people’s tabs at a grocery store, a convenience store, and an ice cream stand throughout the day, handing out Keira “Random Act of Kindness Cards” in honor of one of their own. Keira became an O’Fallon honorary firefighter about a year and a half ago.
People everywhere are doing random acts of kindness and handing out the cards explaining why. The recipients are asked to take the cards and pay it forward.
There are cards and purple (Keira’s favorite color) on mailboxes all over O’Fallon.
Keira bravely battled an especially wicked cancer – rhabdomyosarcoma. Her family and her school, Mid Rivers Elementary, dedicated the new “Keira Friendship Bench” at the school Thursday, the first anniversary of her death.
“That was her one and true only fear – to be forgotten,” said David Stout, Keira’s father.
“She wasn’t afraid to die. She knew where she was going. She was ok with that. But she said, ‘I’m afraid that people will forget me,’” said Robin Stout, Keira’s mom.
“Eventually, the (incoming students) won’t know who Keira was at Mid Rivers but the thought of what the friendship bench is will live on forever,” said school principal Justin Musgrove.
They also placed a plaque with Keira’s name near a tree planted in her memory by the bench.
Painted rocks with messages surround the tree. One reads, “kindness is the new cool.”
Keira helped make it that way.
Her mother is a teacher at the school. Co-workers decorated her classroom complete with handwritten notes on pieces of paper with pandas on them. Keira loved pandas and more than anything her schoolmates.
They missed their friend more than ever Thursday and couldn’t help crying. Yet, in a way, it felt like Keira was still very much with them, her warm smile drying their tears.
“She would run up to them and give them hugs. She would write them a card and give it to them,” her mom said. “I remember one day I walked up to the vending machine and there was a sticky note with 75 cents in a baggie and it said, ‘pay it forward.’ I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I know that handwriting.’
It was Keira’s, of course.
So far, more than 150,000 Keira “Random Acts of Kindness” cards have been distributed in all 50 states and 35 countries. It’s a sure sign that, as Keira’s mom put it, our lives may not go on forever but kindness surely does.
No one knew that better than Keira.