by Terry Rogers
Bill Walton, who is well known in the local arts community, recalled a friend sending him a photo about three or four years ago of someone holding an inspirational sign at an intersection, telling Walton that it “looked like something you would do.” With the turmoil happening in the world today, Walton decided his friend was right. Recently, he has been seen in various places in Kent and Sussex County, holding a poster board sign that reads “You are Awesome!”
“It is not an original idea and I don’t take credit for it,” Walton said. “I got the picture of someone holding a sign with the exact same message. So, I figured I’d give it a try. I made a sign and I put it in the trunk of my car and tried to gather the courage to stand outside with it, but it just never happened. Then, about a year and a half ago, I was driving to Milford on a really nice day and it hit me very hard to finally do it. I made a new sign, took a deep breath and went out to hold it up.”
Walton stated that, right away, people began to honk and wave at him. A few stopped to thank him and one woman told him she had not smiled for over two months until she saw him out with his sign.
“That was when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to stop,” Walton said. “And I have been doing it ever since.”
Walton currently lives in Harrington and works as a retail manager in Dover. He was born and raised in Delaware where he has lived most of his life. He is a fan of classic horror movies, music and board games but wants the emphasis for what he does on his message rather than himself. He has stood with his sign in Dover, Woodside, Harrington and Milford. Walton is currently scouting out new locations to try.
“I think the sudden, unexpected message of personal affirmation catches people off guard, and might even make them forget about their problems for a moment,” Walton said. “Maybe it even encourages them to think about what qualities they may have that make them awesome. People have told me that when they were approaching me, they thought I was panhandling or advertising something and they were not expecting a simple, positive message with no strings attached. I hope that makes them take that message to heart.”
What Walton is doing seems to be making a difference based on the many posts on social media commending him for his actions. Tracy Day Dissinger shared a post from someone whose name had been blacked out to protect their privacy that read “in a world full of turmoil, this guy. This guy was standing in the median of Rt. 13 on a Sunday with this sign. He would turn towards whichever lanes were coming, point, wave…people were honking and smiling. We need more of this guy.” Dissinger agrees
“This is my friend, Bill,” Dissinger state on the shared post. “This is his weekend, after work, day off thing. In addition to being one of the most artistic and creative people I have ever known. Yes, we do need more of this guy.”
The sign Walton holds always reads “You Are Awesome.” He explained that he likes the brevity of it and how there is no commitment. He is not expecting anyone to do anything in response other than contemplate their own goodness. Walton stated that he intends to continue holding his sign “as long as he can stand upright and maybe even beyond that.”
“Love recklessly,” Walton said when asked how people can encourage each other. “Look for opportunities to be kind. Kindness is inside all of us, it’s just sometimes we are hesitant to act on it, because it might make us vulnerable or be a sign of weakness or whatever. Sometimes, one of the bravest, strongest and boldest things you can do is to simply be kind. And we need it so much now. My best advice is to act on that urge to be kind, whatever it is. If you end up hurt or vulnerable, so be it. One of my favorite things is the Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith, the last one of which is “Give the world the best that you have, and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best that you have anyway.”