A young woman going through a hard time receives an anonymous cash donation. A lone diner at a restaurant gets his check and realizes that another patron has taken care of the tab. The driver of a car parked in a hospice parking lot plucks something from his windshield – a gift card to Starbucks.All of these random acts of kindness really happened last year. And all were in the name of Fred Scully. Scully, a resident of the McConnell neighborhood, died on May 19, 2012 at age 29. A lifelong nonsmoker, he and his family – wife, Cynthia, and daughter, Carrington, then age 2 – were caught completely off-guard when he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in November 2011. Six months later he was gone, but not before leaving a lasting impression. “Fred was always such a grateful person,” said Cynthia Scully, 32. “When he was diagnosed, he carried that attitude forward. At the end of the day, he’d be exhausted, but would be focused on others, asking about the nurses, or other patients. He was just a selfless person.” “He was so inspiring, because he remained focused on what he had and not what he was losing.” During their ordeal, the Scullys, who had only lived in Davidson a year, were amazed at how their neighbors and friends came together to help. In addition to providing meals and covering lawn care, some decorated the Scully house with Christmas lights and paid medical bills. Fred’s co-workers at Bank of America bought him an iPad to provide a distraction. Through it all, Fred constantly spoke about how he would “pay if forward” when he was well. But he never got the chance. After he died, Cynthia thought about how she could keep his memory – and spirit – alive. She also dreaded a looming event – June 21, which would have been Fred’s 30th birthday. Fred would only be gone a month when it occurred. A week before, Cynthia sat down at her computer and posted on Fred’s CaringBridge site and her Facebook page. She proposed a “Pay it Forward for Fred” day on June 21, and asked people to perform random acts of kindness in his name. “I thought it was going to be a miserable day, and that we could draw strength together and make it a little easier,” she said. Stories flooded in about people registering to be bone marrow donors, delivering cookies to emergency responders and donating to Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte Region in memory of Fred (about 50 donations in his name). Cynthia and Carrington were overwhelmed. This year on June 21, the event happened on an even bigger scale. As of last week, Cynthia was still compiling a list of acts that people had turned in, but one major way that many contributed was by coming to the aid of Pieter Swart, a 4-year-old McConnell resident who has been battling stage IV neuroblastoma. “When I first learned about Pieter, I was at Fred’s bedside in hospice,” Cynthia said. She immediately felt a connection to the young boy, who turned out to be a neighbor. When people asked what they could do on June 21, Cynthia suggested helping Pieter would be a wonderful way to honor Fred. “When I lost Fred, all I wanted to do was talk about him. The Pay it Forward movement is a powerful way to get out of your own head, and think about other people,” she said. “I’ve learned that joy and sorrow can co-exist. In the darkness of my own grief, (this has) allowed me to see how much beauty there is in the world.”
Monday, Jul. 01, 2013
‘Pay it Forward’ is legacy of Davidson man
More information Want to help? It’s not too late to Pay it Forward for Fred. For information, visit the Facebook page, Pay it Forward for Fred.
Amy Reiss is a freelance writer Have a story idea for Amy? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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