It was in October 2012 when the lives of the Specht family were profoundly affected by a tragedy.

Richard Specht, a middle school teacher, asked one of his friends to watch his 22-month-old son Reese. The friend agreed, but sadly, the little one somehow managed to get out of the house and head towards the backyard pond where he drowned. In the midst of grief and inability to accept the reality that their son lost his life, the family lost their house just 24 hours later when hurricane Sandy struck.

This family’s world was crushed into a million pieces, but their friends, family, and neighbors were there to offer help and support.

Once they managed to stand on their feet again, they tried to pay their friends and relatives back, but they didn’t want the money so the Specht family decided to set up the ReesSpecht Life Foundation whose goal is to make the world a better place by emphasizing the importance of community, respect, and compassion.

The foundation issued hundreds of thousands of cards reading “Pay it Forward” and distributed them around the country in honor of little Reese who tragically lost his life.

The idea behind these cards was for the cardholder do an act of kindness and then pass the card forward creating an unbreakable chain of compassion passed forward.

Years after the tragic incident, one man decided to show his kindness in a beautiful way and honor the passing of Reese, whom he never knew or met.

While at a restaurant in New York’s Times Square, he decided to leave a generous tip to the waitress. On his bill, which was just $43.50, he tipped $3,000 and wrote down three requests for the waitress.

When she saw the tip, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

The message the man left read:

Thank you for your kindness and humility. My teacher in middle school had such a difficult experience a few years ago, which has sparked me to do this. My only requirements are:

1.) Go to and learn!

2.) Don’t let “Pay it forward” end with you.

3.) Since it’s about the idea and not about you, or me, if you decide to share this, don’t use either of our names!

Thank you for being around for all of my shows on and off Broadway. I hope that someday someone gives as much love and happiness into the world as you do.

He requested that he stayed anonymous.

The waitress was eager to learn more of the foundation and that is how she got into touch with Richard Specht. She felt that he would like to know that even though many years have passed, there was still someone who did something touchingly beautiful in his late son’s honor.

She sent him an email and attached the man’s receipt and his message to her.

“My mouth sat agape as a pictured attached to her reply that showed a restaurant receipt with a $3,000 tip on it. I literally did a double, even triple take,” Richard wrote in a blog post. “In staring at that receipt I never noticed the name and it wasn’t until I read the note did I realize that it was a former student of mine. I immediately recalled who he was and realized that I had him at least ten years ago… To think that someone I had a decade ago would honor my little boy, or even remember his eighth-grade science teacher in such a way, blows me away.”

This story is a beautiful reminder that the kindness we offer is one of the most powerful things that makes this world go round.


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