A young girl caught in a battle against leukemia was the first family member to come to the door. Outside, a group of strangers — including one dressed as Santa — sang Christmas carols. Somewhere among them was Mayo Clinic's Danielle Teal, arms full of the gifts she and the others had brought for the family. "They were shocked," she says of the family's reaction. "They couldn't believe it was happening."
Scenes like this have become commonplace in Danielle's life over the past few years. All because of a stranger's act of kindness for her, she says. "They bought my gas for me at a gas station without me knowing it," she tells us. "I couldn't believe it. That experience really hit home for me."
So much so that on New Year's Eve 2012, Danielle resolved to carry out at least one "random, yet intentional" act of kindness each day. "I decided all acts of kindness matter and would hopefully create a ripple effect," she says. In the years since, that resolution has blossomed into a full-on movement that's rippling through the Rochester community and Mayo Clinic. Colleagues from all corners and campuses of Mayo Clinic have become active members of Danielle's "Random Acts of Kindness" Yammer and Facebook groups. The groups carry out acts of kindness in the real world. "It's anything that helps support our fellow human beings and shows them love and kindness," she says. "There's no hard and fast rule about what we do."
Danielle, a web production specialist at Mayo, says showing love and kindness to others hasn't just improved her personal life, but her work life at Mayo Clinic as well. "It's changed the way that I work and the way that I interact with people," she tells us. "This is the only New Year's resolution that I've never broken, which I think is pretty awesome." As do, we're guessing, those who have found themselves on the receiving end. "My family has grown by hundreds," Danielle says. "It's amazing how much love comes back to you when you put kindness into the world."
Like the kind of love that came back to Danielle last month when she won ABC 6 News' "Pay it Forward" campaign. Her award was recognition for the many acts of kindness she's helped orchestrate "every day for the past 1,579 days." But it was recognition that Danielle tells us she wasn't looking for. "People will sometimes say, 'Oh, you're so inspiring' and whatnot, but I don't feel that way at all," she says. "What inspires me are the individuals who after being on the receiving end of these random acts of kindness turn around and say, 'I want to do that. I want to help out.'"
Watch Danielle receive her "Pay it Forward" award here. Then, inspire us by sharing your comments below before you share this story with others using the handy social media tools.