“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try,” former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once noted.
A New Brunswick teenager who bravely battled brain cancer demonstrated the truth in that statement.
Rebecca Schofield of Riverview, N.B., just 18 years old, succumbed last month to the cancer she had fought for years, but not before inspiring a good-deeds movement that reached around the globe.
When Rebecca’s cancer took a turn for the worse in 2016 and she learned she had only months to live, she crafted a bucket list in December of that year that included partaking in some of life’s simple pleasures, like playing with puppies and enjoying her dad’s macaroni and cheese.
The list also included an altruistic item – “to create a mass of acts of kindness,” she wrote on her Facebook page, encouraging her thousands of followers to share their good deeds on social media because “#BeccaToldMeTo.”
People listened and responded, and her request went viral. Becca’s kindness campaign inspired thousands of people around the world and attracted the attention of politicians at the civic, provincial and national level.
Ann Seamans, the mayor of Riverview, said in a statement that Rebecca had an “immeasurable” impact on the community and around the world by showing how one person can indeed make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Examples of youth looking to make a difference in the face of adversity can be found locally as well.
Trenton Dyck, who was diagnosed with stage four ARMS, used his wish to bring clean water to Haiti.
The Coaldale chapter of Scouts Canada rallied around fellow scout Mark Cuget to raise money for his cancer treatments.
The students at R.I Baker Middle School raised money for the Ronald McDonald House in memory of their late classmate Michael Van Liere.
News media reported that hundreds of members of a Facebook group dedicated to Rebecca’s good-deeds movement said they were turning on their porch lights in her honour. The tribute spread from California to Texas to Florida and across Canada.
Schofield’s campaign even inspired a book by Moncton, N.B. author Jason Tremere, called “BeccaToldMeTo: Spreading kindness, one hashtag at a time – A collection of over 1,000 mass acts of kindness.”
A service celebrating Rebecca’s life was scheduled. While her much-too-soon death is being mourned by her family and countless others, her father, Darren Schofield, in a Facebook tribute, wrote about about the amazing impact his daughter made during her final months.
“How amazing it is to have had a child that has truly reached out and touched the world around us,” said her proud dad.
By doing so, Rebecca Schofield, like so many others, will live on through the acts of kindness she inspired and through her selfless example even in the face of her own terminal illness.
Even while she was dying, she showed others what it means to really live.