What would you be willing to give up in order to make sure someone you loved could continue doing something they needed? If you were a parent would you trade everything you have and gamble on human kindness and some pretty tough guys in the hopes that they would answer your child's prayer? At 11 years old Zach "Bug" Bennett suffers from neurofibromatosis 1, a genetic disorder that affects his nervous system. The disease that Zach also shares with his mother creates tumors that can grow in size and actually break his bones, which has led to the amputation of both his legs. He's had 20 surgeries in his eleven years. But through his illness he has developed an exceptionally close relationship with the local Albany River Rats hockey team. He had been to every game and even was invited to meet the team and they formed a bond throughout the seasons. The team even came to the hospital to visit Zach on various occasions. Unfortunately the Albany River Rats team had to pack up their pucks and sticks and move to Charlotte, North Carolina, dedicated fan Zach Bennett told his parents he wanted to make the move, too. This placed the weight of his continued progress in physical therapy on his parents.
After the team left Zach's motivation went down and his effort in physical therapy diminished as well. Zach's father unsure if he would find work placed his home up for sale, and wanted to pack up a U-haul and head to Charlotte. But couldn't due to the slow market and housing the house not selling as soon as they would have hoped. However, after hearing of the various set backs like the house on the market that didn't sell and Zach's recent physical therapy sessions the hockey team --now called the Charlotte Checkers -- decided it couldn't leave its beloved fan behind. The team bought a new house in Charlotte and gave the Bennetts the keys. Zach's father said, "They kept him going after his amputation. Hockey players are a different caliber of athlete. These are guys who'd come over, kick off their shoes and sit on the couch to play games with our son." To me that is the definition of going above and beyond expectations. For a minor league hockey team that has just relocated to a new area to even consider helping a family in need shows that its more than money to some people. Kindness does still exist. The Checkers also painted Zach's room and autographed a wall above his bed filled with motivational messages and gave a child new hope to keep going on.
Do a random act of kindness today. You never know some little thing that you do can have a big impact on someone else. To help the Bennetts, the team raised money with several fundraisers, including a Facebook campaign. Once the house was bought, sponsors and contractors donated laabor and materials to tailor the house to the Bennetts' needs. That is the meaning of paying it forward.
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