Sometimes in my line of work I get to be involved with some truly amazing acts of compassion.
Earlier this month, a story had been circulating around town. A young soldier, Chase Tingey, was granted leave, but was stationed in Fort Bragg in North Carolina and couldn’t afford a plane ticket to Utah to see his mom, Loni Tingey who moved to Morgan a short time ago.
Chase’s only option was to hop on a bus. This option meant that he would spend four days of his two-week leave traveling across the country instead of spending much deserved time with his family.
When stories like this circulate in this small town, problems tend to find solutions. A local philanthropist heard the story and contacted Mayor Jim Egbert. This anonymous donor wanted to fly this boy home free of charge.
Mayor Egbert called me to solicit my help in pulling off this heart-warming surprise. He said, “What I am about to tell you is top secret,” and proceeded to fill me in on his brilliant plan.
I decided then and there that I would make a horrible FBI employee because I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew. Of course I didn’t—that would take a long time, and I didn’t have much time to wait.
Mayor Egbert had arranged all the particulars with neighbors Jeff and Melody Little. They traditionally hold a family “3rd of July” party in their backyard, so having a lot of people over to their house would be easily inconspicuous.
The plan was to sneak Chase in the Little family’s garage and have him wait for the right moment to make his appearance. Mayor Egbert picked Chase up from the airport and brought him home, stopped at the newspaper office to make sure I was on the move, and proceeded to the Little home.
When we arrived, the mayor approached Loni’s door and knocked. He informed her that he was running for mayor again this year. As the liaison between the military and the city, he wanted to have a few photos taken with some local military moms.
Loni agreed to the photo shoot and accompanied us outside. She proudly stopped along the way to introduce Chase’s brother, her other military son. Mayor Egbert joked that he would like to employ him as a body guard someday.
We set up in a nice spot in the back yard, conveniently near the Little family garage. As I proceeded to take several photos of the military mother and mayor, Chase popped in behind, creating the perfect photo bomb. Chase, by the way, is clearly made for the military. He can clearly keep a secret, even from his own mom, and he was super stealthy.
I then approached his mom to get her approval of the pictures. As I showed her the pictures, a moment of panic set in. You couldn’t see Chase’s flawless photo bomb in my small screen. I used the guise of getting a few more shots to figure out how to zoom in on my camera screen. I approached her again, this time using all my spy skills, zooming in so you could see Chase. She paused. “Wait! That looks like my son! That looks like Chase! How did you do that?” I tried to convince her of my superior, on-the-move Photoshop skills, but she wasn’t convinced.
Chase had gone back into the garage, but his mom only had to look around for a few minutes before he came out holding a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. Tears filled his mother’s eyes and she embraced him in the “I am never letting you go again” mom hug.
I stepped back trying to hide my own tears at this tender showing of emotion, but I looked around and was grateful to see that I wasn’t alone. There wasn’t a dry eye at the Little home.
Small acts of kindness make big impressions.