Carson King speaks with Belle Plaine students
Belle Plaine High School kicked off its Kindness Challenge of 2020, hearing from a person who turned a cardboard sign into a multi-million dollar act of kindness for the University of Iowa Stead Children’s Hospital, Carson King. The assembly was Jan. 27 at the school.
The Kindness Challenge is explained at the school’s website. “Each advisor group has been challenged to complete four random (or not-so-random) acts of kindness over the next three weeks. This page will highlight a few of the many moments of #Plainsmenkind. May this challenge help us all realize what a force of kindness we can be – and when we join forces, we can make our lives, our school, our town, our community and our world even better!”
King recalled the best thing he was hoping for from the sign, asking for beer, that he held before the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game was to maybe get $20. He looked down to his phone, and he quickly saw
$400 has been raised. Friends felt this could be a fun night on the town. Two hours later, it was $1,600, so he called his parents on what to do.
It was decided to donate to the children’s hospital in Iowa City.
Phone calls started coming in the next week from throughout the world, including an invitation to be on Good Morning America. Other networks wanted to talk to him as well. Within one week, they hit $1 million.
He then received a call from the Des Moines Register reporter, who said he found some tweets he’d made when King was 16. The reporter asked King what he thought about them. Anheuser Busch was going to match the donations, and called to say “We’re done with you,” because of the tweets, saying he didn’t match up with their core values.
He was devastated. King was afraid he has messed up a million dollar fund-raiser for kids because he was immature as a kid on social media.
Support continued. “People kind of realized that when you’re young, you make mistakes. That’s part of growing up,” King observed. He stressed most cheer for results, but when one fails, it’s a learning opportunity.
People got behind him and through social media raised $3 million. “It was incredible,” he said.
King told the students that social media is powerful. Parents and teachers can see what you write. Snapchat archives everything people post. Other platforms are also are archived and people can find the posts. “What would mom or grandma think if they saw what I post? Would they approve this?” is what King said kids should ask when posting or everything. Colleges and business look at posts to see what kind of a person one is.
Another lesson. “A small act of kindness. You never know how large that will turn out.” He said of his act, “I got this horrible $1.19 sign and asked for beer on it. I decided I could send the money off and it turned into something huge.” He credited the 35,000 people who donated with making this happen.
An act of kindness doesn’t have to involve raising money. It could be a simple as holding a door for someone, King said. He said he’s had hard days at school like all students. Something simple like saying hello can turn someone’s day around.
“If you guys walk into a room full of smiling people, you’re going to start smiling,” King said.
“I also learned that one person can make a difference,” King concluded. “Something so small can spark huge things.”