For several years after Madison Peterman died in a car accident with her grandmother, Sandra Peterman, and her friend, Hannah Davies, her family and friends would gather at Madison’s grave to release balloons with notes attached, symbolically sending them to heaven. On the fifth birthday after Madison died in 2009, her mother Carrie Peterman decided that something had to change. She recalled that at the time of her death, Madison had a white board in her room with the words Love, Kindness and Hope on it. Madison loved to help others and Ms. Peterman decided that creating a day that celebrated random acts of kindness on Madison’s birthday, March 25, would be the best way to celebrate her daughter’s memory.
In 2014, Ms. Peterman began posting on social media asking people to join her in performing random acts of kindness for others throughout March 25. She said that the idea grew quickly and people asked her to share the post publicly so they could share it with others. “I think it went viral almost immediately,” Ms. Peterman said. “I received comments and posts from Canada, California, the Carolinas and Virginia.”
The event became so popular that the Peterman family decided to continue. On Saturday, March 25, 2017, the fourth annual Random Acts of Kindness Day was celebrated. Throughout the day people posted on social media what they did in memory of Madison. Dafne Cartwright posted that she taped quarters to gumball machines at Food Lion with a remembrance card depicting Madison’s picture that described Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Ginger Marino dropped off trays of subs to the ER staff at Milford Hospital. She said that one of the nurses working was there the day of Madison’s accident and thanked Ms. Marino for her kindness. “Leave the petty stuff behind and hug your loved ones a little bit more because you never know what the very next moment has in store,” Ms. Marino posted. She also dropped trays of subs off at the Sussex Correctional Institute for the guards.
Tish Lynn Withers stopped by a nursing and rehab unit, sharing Madison’s story. She asked if the nursing staff could direct her to a resident who may need a pick-me-up and maybe someone who rarely has visitors. She said that she met a wonderful lady who has many ailments, but the woman told Ms. Withers that she would walk again and go home. The woman held her hand as they prayed for her healing, strength and perseverance while also praising the blessings they had been given. Ms. Withers gave the woman a vase of flowers and opened her blind a little to let in some sunshine. The woman asked her to let “the mommy,” Ms. Peterman know that she hoped her day brought less tears and more smiles.
On the Remembering Madison Facebook page, there was an anonymous post that said it was raining in Iowa today, so they bought a gift card to Dunkin Donuts and gave it a family who was going through the drive through lane, an example of how Random Acts of Kindness Day had spread throughout the country. Delmarva Christian School’s culinary class prepared over five dozen muffins to be delivered to the Delaware Veteran’s Home and Delaware Hospice on Saturday. Gerber daisies were delivered to the Delaware Tang So Do Academy where Madison’s story was shared.
“I just want to say thank you, today was truly amazing,” Ms. Peterman said. “I cannot keep up with all the posts. I am surrounded by family and friends, with much laughter and love, so for tonight, I’m just going sit back and enjoy the time I have with them. This day far exceeded any expectation that I had and you are all a huge part in that. Please know I love you all and appreciate all that you did today to honor our sweet girl. For tonight, I am going to enjoy the laughter in my house and all the memories and love that is being shared.”
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