The final piece will be launched on his website shortly. I'll be sure to post a link here once the website goes live.
On March 14, 2010, a bunch of entrepreneurs and bloggers were at a party in Austin, TX, during South by Southwest (sXsw). At some point, word went around that Matt, a man most of them didn’t know, needed a wheelchair. He was 18 and a firefighter, and had recently gotten a virus that left him temporarily paralyzed. While his parents could cover the entire treatment, they weren’t opposed to a little help from Matt’s friends and family. Even with insurance medical care is costly and without a wheelchair, he couldn’t leave his bed. Can you imagine being stuck in bed for months as an eighteen-year-old?
The room, like so many at SXSW, was filled with some sincerely likable and generous people including bloggers, public speakers, and business owners. One woman who knew Matt, Annie, shared Matt’s story with a blogger named Thom Singer. Thom was so impacted by the story he opened his wallet then and there and gave $20. They told the story to Ian, Scott, and Cindy, who in turn shared the story with a half-dozen more. Together, they raised a couple hundred dollars in 30 minutes and made Matt’s last wheelchair payment. Matt’s life was transformed by the unexpected gift from complete strangers. Not only that, the generosity that Annie, Thom, and the others showed transformed their lives. Giving made them feel good, not just in the moment but, for long afterwards. Annie had high expectations of her time at SXSW, but finding a group of generous friends to help a stranger wasn’t one of them. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the highlight. The million-dollar presentations and flash-filled exhibits were probably soon forgotten. She probably didn’t even remember the deluge of information she got from the conference. However, she will never forget the look on Thom’s face as he gave that $20, or the way it felt to witness the viral response of others.
When Thom blogged about it later, Annie commented that Matt’s mom was “thrilled and grateful (if not a little confused) for everyone’s generosity.” Rufus responded to Thom’s story with simple note of, “Thank you for sharing.” Lynn H. said, “Life is about noticing the good little things, if you ask me. Wait for big deals and you wait too long. Notice the little things, and they add up.” Tracy Lee said, “I am sure Matt and his family will never forget the kindness offered up by strangers. This is really an inspiration to all.”
He goes on to explain that to inspire people to give, there has to be a need to give. Well...the need is here. 600,000 Oklahomans will wake up today and wonder where their next meal will come from. Oklahoma ranks as the fifth hungriest state in the nation. I don't want to get into politics here, but we shouldn't need government programs to help out the people around us when we have the ability to help them ourselves. I've worked in the government for nearly 9 years now, and I can tell you that we can do it ourselves much more efficiently and effectively.
Spero can feed a famly of 4 for 10-14 days for $15. Each person who matched my donation from Mineral Wells stage race fed two families for two weeks.
Two families of 4...for 2 weeks...for $30. It doesn't take huge gifts to change the world. It only takes a small amount, given regularly, by lots of people, to make a big difference.