“Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu
When I was growing up, the Internet was in it’s infancy and the day of the newspaper ruled for getting your news. CNN was not yet born and for entertainment, you looked to the funny pages or the advice columns, often sharing the same page of the newspaper. I remember my mother cutting out inspirational sayings or clipping advice from Ann Landers and posting them on the front of the refrigerator to hang for years and years. This is what we did in my house. This is where the inspiration quietly came from…the people who wrote the columns. Today, journalist and writers of all kinds take to the Internet (including us) to share insights and move the world…but we were all shaped in some way or another through the generations from those who came before us. One of those writers was Percy Ross with his column, “Thanks a Millon.”
Percy Ross was a regular man. The son of a junk dealer who both made and lost fortunes and then, made them again. But his greatest fortune was probably the joy that he both received and gave to others by giving away his money to those that wrote in and asked him for a little help. Internationally known as a philanthropist, syndicated columnist, author and radio host, Percy Ross, to me as a little girl, was a wish maker. Some of his letter’s might have read, “Dear Mr. Ross, My brother needs a new pair of shoes…” “Dear Percy, My mother can’t afford to buy her diabetes medication and I only have $100 to help her. She needs $200. Can you please help.” “Dear Mr. Ross….Thanks a million…” His goal was to give all of his fortune away and by 1999, he had done that. “I’ve achieved my goal…I’ve given it all away,” he said in his farewell column in Minneapolis, “but in many respects I’m far richer today than when I started.” Ross died in 2001 at the age of 84. While he gave away millions for wishes, he gave to the world a lasting imprint of hope and kindness and giving a hand-up when possible.
For years, my journey lead me to college,to different careers and to travel and through it all, I always remember the kindness of strangers and the people that have touched my life and have made me a better person. The dad at McDonald’s that paid for the meal of the man who didn’t have enough money in line next to him and the eyes of his two sons who watched him, the teacher who brought sack lunches for the little boy who never had one and secretly added it to his cubbie during the day so he wouldn’t be embarrassed, the boss who lifted me up to the next level to get me promoted and move me from a job into a career, Gayle King who read our blog, gave us a trip of a lifetime to OYou and who’s note lifts us every day…and Percy Ross, the person who reminded this little girl with very little that there were people in the world that were wish makers…and that someday, I just might grow up to be one myself.