If you skipped the daily barrage of headlines and Twitter storms and limited your reading to Trophy Central blogs, you’d agree with us that 2019 was a banner year for kindness. And you, like us, would start 2020 with the optimism of Sue Heck, the fictional character who inspired our Random Acts of Trophy-ness awards.
Last year got off to a fantastic start in January, when a Michigan police officer pumped $20 worth of gas into a woman’s tank, a small gesture that led to a whopping $27,633 being raised in a GoFundMe campaign to ease the elderly widow’s financial struggles.
Trophy-Worthy Education in Kindness
The year of kindness got additional boosts from three teachers, including one who chopped off her hair to send an anti-bullying message to her students, another whose show of compassion led to a mocked-student’s t-shirt becoming official sports memorabilia at the University of Tennessee and another who launched a program to award trophies to students who exhibited the most kindness during the school year.
Across-the-Map Random Acts of Trophy-ness
Other trophy-worthy individuals included three teens in Indiana who gave up their Spring Break to spread kindness across the Midwest, an Oregon woman who delivered socks and other goodies to area homeless residents, a Texas student who helped raise $80,000 for her best friend’s brother’s heart transplant, a Chicago real estate agent who purchased 30 motel rooms to keep homeless people safe during a cold snap, and the founder of Noah’s Animal House, a safe haven for the pets of women who have fled to a domestic violence shelter.
Some of Trophy Central’s “Show Us Your Sue” winners made headlines. All of them brought joy and hope to the lives they touched. When it came time to pick a December winner, the trophy-topper of the year, our standard for selection seemed almost impossibly high.
Standard-Setting December Trophy Winner
We are beyond pleased to announce that we found someone who reached – and then sailed past – our standard. This is a person who has made both random and planned acts of kindness a way of life and shares a common extracurricular activity with Sue Heck, the fictional character on The Middle whose optimism and determination inspired us to create an award for unheralded heroes who make the world a better place.
Don Folsom, our December Random Acts of Trophy-ness winner, stood out among a long list of contenders in three ways:
- Don makes random (and not-so random) acts of kindness a way of life.
Don started a recent day in December by visiting a man in hospice before taking his wife out to breakfast at an eatery overlooking Michigan’s Lake Charlevoix. Before leaving, he anonymously paid the restaurant tab for two tables of young mothers and their children. Later that day, he helped EMTs load a neighbor into an ambulance.
About hospice work, Don says, “Some people say they could never do it. It’s easy for me, just yanking with an old guy.”
About paying for people’s restaurant orders?, “I love doing that, I hope it made their day.”
About helping his neighbor? “I’ll always be a fireman.” (For 12 years, he was a volunteer for Pitsfield and Van Buren townships in southeastern Michigan.)
Don also travels downstate frequently to relieve his sister from caring for their 97-year-old father. Yes, he complains about the TV-viewing rules (no talking except during commercials) and the TV choices (Judge Judy and Wheel of Fortune). But he’s pleased that his dad still enjoys the turkey he bakes and BBQ ribs he orders for him.
And much of Don’s other journeys involve helping friends or tracking the history of long-last ancestors. He’s even tracked down friends he hasn’t seen in decades.
His explanation is simple and trophy worthy: he likes making people smile.
- Don, like Sue Heck, is a cross-country runner.
Sue Heck joined her high school No-Cut Cross-Country team for the same reason she formed the Wrestlerettes – it was her only way to guarantee entry to an after-school activity. We don’t know Don’s motivation for joining the cross country team at Churchill High School in Livonia, Michigan or the Eastern Michigan University cross country team in Ypsilanti.
But we do know he still runs every day with his two standard poodles, Fritz and Beau, and still participates in races a few times a year. And, like Sue, Don doesn’t consider winning as important as crossing the finish line!
- Don has a wife named Sue!
Surely, it’s just coincidence but, if we needed more reason to award the December Random Act of Trophy-ness, his choice of spouse sure helps!
The former Susan Miller was Don’s college girlfriend and their first date was to see a then-unknown comic named Steve Martin. After 40 years of marriage, he considers himself lucky to share a life and laughter with his best friend.
And all of us at Trophy Central consider ourselves lucky to name Don our December Random Act of Trophy-Ness Winner. Keep the kindness coming, Don!
Happy 2020s to old friends and new friends in the “Show Us Your Sue” community! We are on a mission to discover – and reward – everyday acts of kindness. But those who are the most kind and most thoughtful are often the least likely to share their quietly heroic deeds. So we need your help! Do you know someone trophy-worthy, someone whose acts of kindness – uppercase or lower – make the world happier and gentler? Please help us find the next winner of a Random Acts of Trophy-ness trophy! Nominate someone (or several someones) in the comments section below or post your choice in social media using the hashtag #ShowUsYourSue. Find us on Facebook or Twitter. Please share your story – and help kindness spread in 2020.