updated 01/02/2013 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/03/2013 AT 12:45 PM ET
Jayden Lamb was not even 9 years old when he died the week after last Thanksgiving, two years into his battle against cancer.
“It was a short life but a big impact,” his father, Tom Lamb, of Midland, Mich., told the MLive.com. “There was something about him, I’m not sure if it was the message he had to get out, but he was so happy.”
Those who loved Jayden – the many family and friends – have found a way to honor his memory: by spreading goodwill through the generous and genuine helping of others.
The local pay-it-forward movement began when Jayden’s father and stepmother, Tom and Nicole Lamb, bought Starbucks coffee and pairs of shoes for strangers, intended as a means to ease their pain. Now, there is the Keep on Truckin’ Team Jayden Facebook page, which allows others to follow their lead.
More than 35,000 people have joined the Facebook page and shared countless examples of paying it forward in Jayden’s name. Stories of pizzas, toys and gift cards being presented to total strangers started pouring in. One anonymous person even donated a diamond ring to the Salvation Army in Midland, reportedly worth $2,000, with a note attached that read: “Paying it Forward Jayden Style. God Bless,” according to the Facebook page. And local TV station NBC 25 reports there have also been cases of $100 tips given in Jayden’s name, too.
“It’s amazing just to see all the people helping each other and seeing so many people compassionate in his name,” said Tom Lamb. “To see the people he has touched, it’s just unbelievable to me and my wife.”
As the recipient of someone’s generosity, Jennifer Campbell of Midland was able to provide Christmas for her four children. After visiting the local Kmart to cancel her holiday layaway, Campbell discovered that the entire balance, minus one penny, had already been paid off anonymously.
“I want to thank whoever saved my kids’ Christmas,” said Campbell. “Jayden is smiling so big in heaven right now.”
His parents agree.
“It’s extremely hard to lose a child to anything,” said his dad, adding: “[But] it makes me feel my child has a made a difference to people.”
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