Small acts of kindness can mean so much to those in need, as one family of a special needs child discovered when a kind stranger stepped in to help. Parenting is challenging enough at times, but Jessica Everett Byrd and her daughter often have additional challenges in their path, as Eliza was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.
Eliza and her family went to a local Easter egg hunt for some holiday fun and, while there was a special section for special needs children, the event didn’t hold as much happiness as they had hoped. They made the best of the situation, but it was a stranger’s kindness the next day that made a huge impact.
Eliza’s mom, Jessica, shared the story on social media, writing:
“We took Eliza to an Easter egg hunt yesterday. The areas were all sectioned off according to age and there was a place sectioned off for special needs children. The area started to get crowded and James and I even made the comment that we didn’t realize there were so many special needs kids in Hattiesburg… It came time to go get the eggs and all the kids just started running and clearing the area of eggs. By the time we got to them, James was able to pick up a few and we had to dodge kids to get some eggs for Eliza’s basket. Only one child took pause as she approached a lone egg that we were in front of, and she looked at Eliza and then down at the egg and decided to go get another one.”
The day didn’t turn out as they hoped, but there were some teachable moments that came from the experience, she explained: “We kind of left the hunt a little defeated. In the car, we were discussing topics like ‘being first’ and ‘getting the most’ and where does human greed start. And how parents are teaching their kids these things. And I made the argument that if we want equal rights and for Eliza to be ‘treated equally’ then, unfortunately, things like this were going to be a part of all that. She’s not going to be first, she’s going to get trampled over sometimes, and sometimes other kids are going to make good choices and sometimes they won’t.”
She continued with her story, writing: “Then today, after an amazing worship service, we decided to go to the zoo because today has been beautiful. When we got to the zoo, the lady at the gate said there were ‘2 more golden eggs’ left to be found. The zoo hid golden eggs for patrons to find and turn in for special prizes all throughout the zoo.”
She added: “While we were roaming around they announced that there was ‘only ONE more golden egg to be found’… Eliza was having a blast at the splash pad, and mommy was taking pictures of her (surprise, surprise) when this kid and his friends came walking up to us. He had something in his hand and said, ‘Hey, so…I found this egg and if you turn it in they will give you a prize. I wanted to give it to your daughter if that’s OK. I don’t know what they will give her, but she can take it up there and find out.”
Jessica was so moved by his generosity, writing: “Y’all. I’m not going to lie. I’m glad I had sunglasses on so he and his friends couldn’t see my eyes watering. After yesterday, and then worship today, my heart just couldn’t handle God’s timing… I repeatedly thanked him and asked if I could take his picture. He squatted down (I love it when people squat to be on her level) next to Eliza and gave her the egg and she just smiled so big and said, “oh, thank you!” – I can’t even today. My faith in humanity (and in particular the younger generation) was restored with this cheap, plastic egg and the heart of this young man. So, if anyone happens to know him, please share this so he will know just how important his ‘good deed’ really was.”
While his small selfless gesture was hugely appreciated by the family, the boy also received something special. After he was recognized in a photo on the zoo’s Facebook page, the zoo offered him an annual pass for his act of kindness. He continued to pay it forward, contacting the family and offering to take Eliza with him for one of his visits to the zoo.