From tragedy oftentimes comes opportunity to do good. We see that often in our community when someone is taken from us too soon, and family and friends harness the outpouring of generosity into something like a scholarship program or charitable organization in their loved one's name.
A few weeks ago, former Baltimore Ravens player Todd Heap and his family suffered such a tragedy when Heap accidentally struck his 3-year-old daughter Holly with his truck while parking in the driveway of his Arizona home, killing her.
While Heap and his family are not local, he was a popular figure in the community during his playing days when the Ravens were more closely associated with Carroll County, coming to McDaniel College in Westminster every summer for training camp. And this tragic story resonated with individuals who, even if they weren't fans of Heap or the Ravens, felt their heart break for him and his family.
Today, Wednesday, May 3, the Heap family is asking people to honor their daughter, Holly, on what would have been her fourth birthday by asking people to simply be kind to one another and participating in random acts of kindness. "Holly was known to give the best hugs, and her love for everyone and everything in life was contagious," the family writes on the website, HugsForHolly.com. "Let's spread this joy as we scatter sunshine in Holly's honor on her birthday."
The website offers suggestions on how to get involved, including wearing pink in Holly's honor, "Smile more. Compliment somebody. Write a kind note. Share treats (or chicken nuggets). Do a free lemonade stand. Leave a bigger tip than usual. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Donate a book in Holly's honor. Turn up the music and dance … the list is endless. Be creative!" The Heaps also suggest posting pictures of spreading kindness by using the hashtag #hugsfromhollyday on social media and hugsfromholly.com includes a link to make a donation to the Holly Heap Memorial Fund, which is administered by the Baltimore Community Foundation.
Heap was no stranger to spreading kindness during his time with the Ravens from 2001 to 2010. He notably gave $1 million to support building a pediatric center at a hospital in Baltimore County, facilitated a toy drive to supply the cancer center's playroom, hosted events through his foundation to raise money supporting programs by Goodwill Industries, and participated in holiday initiatives to give gifts to disadvantaged youth, among other charitable endeavors.
Perhaps we can learn from the heart of a 3-year-old and her caring father. All of us could stand to be a little nicer and more courteous to each other these days — whether it's when discussing divisive political issues locally or nationally, or being a little more respectful of the other team when cheering on our kids at the next rec soccer or Little League game — and spread random acts of kindness in our community.