On a hot Oklahoma City day, we found ourselves somberly sipping ice cold drinks waiting for a couple of burgers at The Garage Burgers and Beer. A better part of the morning was spent touring the former site of the Oklahoma City Bombing and current site of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect prior to the memorial and museum. With vague memories of news coverage in our minds faded by over two decades of life we entered the exhibits and traveled back in time to April 19, 1995; the time was 9:01 AM.

We left at the proverbial 9:03 AM – our lives forever impacted. With mountains of emotions and thoughts we quietly sat at the bar – burgers waiting in front of us. Not a word was said – just busy minds sorting thoughts. After the bills were paid a short discussion led to a plan to distribute water and sandwiches to those in need on the streets of OKC. Before we walked even a block from the cool refuge we’d left behind we noticed a food truck selling shaved ice, called Snow S’More, was taking advantage of the hot day and a large line was waiting patiently for an icy treat.

We looked at each other for a brief second, which was all we needed to acknowledge the situation, and Shane took off running through traffic to cross the street. He immediately went to the front of the line where a father and his two young children were ordering their salvation in a cup. Shane knelt down next to the little girl and asked, “Do you want to buy everybody’s treat in this line?” The little girl was perplexed (either from the question at hand or wondering who the strange man was talking to her).  Noticing her confusion, Shane handed her some money and said, “Let’s pay for everyone in this line.” The little girl took the money, looked at her father, then the man behind the counter, then Shane, and again back at her father. “Go ahead and tell him (the cashier) what you want to do,” Shane suggested. The girl looked back at her father once more as he gave an encouraging, “Go ahead.” Reaching as far as she could, the girl handed the money to the man behind the counter and said, “I would like to pay for everyone in line!”

Word of free shaved ice spread quickly and it didn’t take long for people to ask us what we were doing. A group of young girls approached Shane as the bravest one stood out and asked, “Why are you doing this?” An almost identical moment from last summer flashed in Shane’s mind as he knelt down in front of the girls. “Well, how did this make you feel?” he asked. The girl responded with one word, “Happy.” Shane grinned and said, “Well that is why I did this. It made you happy.” Before parting ways Shane added, “You can do that same thing for people you meet as well.”

Through several conversations we found out that some of the kids getting shaved ice were just wrapping up a camp hosted by the organization Hearts for Hearing. The incredible organization provides a variety of support and solutions for hearing impaired children. They had just wrapped up camp for the week with their parents and families gathering to pick them up. Hearts for Hearing had brought the shaved ice food truck in to provide shaved ice to the camp kids at no expense to them, however, most kids had brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers also there. We found out that our random act of kindness provided free treats to everyone (including the incredibly deserving camp counselors.)

Yet another instance of what has been dubbed Serendipitous Wildness was noticed when a camp counselor told Nate how they had spent a whole day during the camp talking about random acts of kindness. Everywhere we looked there was smiles and laughter. Some children were covered in the melting mess of pure joy that was their treat, while others meticulously devoured the shaved ice leaving no trace that the snack ever existed – all the while being part of a real life random act of kindness.

During our last conversation with one of the camp facilitators we found out that the owner of the food truck, Leo, was having a pretty rough day. He had damaged his truck and lost a spare tire on the way to the event making him an hour late. All the kids and their families had been waiting for their promised treat and Leo did not want to let them down. Nate was quick to point out that if it were not for that misfortune, Project Wildness would never had run into them. The facilitator commented, “He needed this. He’s had a pretty rough day and he needed this.”

On the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial is a large American Elm tree called The Survivor tree. The tree was spared when a parking lot was built around it and through the years the tree continued to grow among all the brick and pavement in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City. When the bomb went off and the concrete and steel crumbled, the Survivor Tree remained. In the museum is a display of cards sent to the survivors of the bombing from all around the world. On one card a young child wrote about a tree his class planted as a memorial to the tragedy. The last sentence of the note says, “I hope you grow strong like the tree. Your friend, Ryan.”

Grow strong like the tree.

#ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Emma and Sydney… What the two of you young ladies are doing is truly incredible! You have learned so quickly what it means to “Live Wildness!” Just know that the two of you have inspired both of us with your generosity and giving spirit. We read about your good deeds across Hawley and thought it was only fitting to use your donation to cool some folks off in Oklahoma the same way you cooled off our hometown. You two are an inspiration! Keep spreading good!

To Kim and Deb… The two of you were such a large part of our childhood that we can’t begin to thank you enough for your generosity and willingness to put up with a bunch of teenagers coming in and out of your home. I think I drank more of your soda and ate more Pizza Corner pizzas at your place than the two of you did. J Thanks for being two awesome adults in our lives. You asked us to use your donation for someone with a disability, and as usually seems to happen, we came across these incredible kids! Thanks for brightening their day!

To Robin… We couldn’t think of a more perfect way to use your donation. If you could only have seen the faces of these little guys and gals you’d have beamed just as much as we did. And if you could have experienced the incredible heat of Oklahoma City this day, we also don’t doubt you’d have chosen to do the exact same thing. It’s been a pleasure working with you the last couple of years. You do a great job and those kids have been lucky to have you around. Thanks again for being a double donor! J