Richard Specht and his family went through a tragically difficult time when they lost their 22 month old son, Rees Specht. However, despite the tragic loss, Specht and his wife found a way to grow a beautiful thing out of their sorrow. The little boy died after Specht asked a friend to look after him, but the child ended up wandering outside and drowned in a backyard pond. Unfortunately, just two days after the incident, Hurricane Sandy hit his Long Island town leaving him without power for about two weeks.
In honor of their son, the Spechts vowed to bring kindness to the world, so they created The ReesSpecht Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to spread kindness and compassion in the world. The organization offers high school scholarships, educational programs, and pass out “Pay It Forward” cards to fulfill their mission.
On their Facebook page, the Spechts wrote, “We may have lost our little boy, but 470,000 people (and counting) received something in return: Kindness. We are proud to say that we have kept our promise to our little Rees. The world knows his name and it’s synonymous with the very kindness that shined a light in our darkest hour.”
The family found contentment and realized just how much of an impact their organization was having when they learned that one of Specht’s former students left a waitress a $3,000 tip in honor of their Pay It Forward project.
One night, Specht received an email from an unknown woman,who sent him a copy of her receipt The receipt showed a restaurant credit card receipt for $43.50 with a $3,000 tip, however the tip came with a note that contained three conditions. It read:
“Thank you for your kindness and humility. My teacher in middle school had such a difficult experience a few years ago which has sparked me to do this. My only requirements are:
1) Go to ReesSpechtLife.com and learn!
2) Don’t let “Pay it forward” end with you.
3) Since it’s about the idea and not about you, or me, if you decide to share this, don’t use either of our names!
Thank you for being around for all of my shows on and off Broadway. I hope that someday someone gives as much love and happiness into the world as you do.
Specht realized that the note came from a student he had in his science class almost 10 years ago. In a blog post, he explained, “This young man used to come up to my room to talk with me and I remember many of our conversations that we had over the course of that year. Sadly, as with most of my students, I never really had a chance to talk to him again after he left my classroom and moved on to the 9th grade.” “To think that someone I had a decade ago would honor my little boy or even remember his 8th-grade science teacher in such a way blows me away.” He added.
Despite the difficult times the Spechts have had to go through mourning their son, it is comforting to know that there is a good ton of kindness and good deeds happening in the world because of the legacy they managed to build for their child. Specht said, “I get messages all the time now about the acts of kindness people perform, and whether big or small, they all generate the same feeling of true happiness in my soul,” Specht said. “Every act of kindness we hear about brings a smile to my face as I know, in some small way, my little boy’s spirit helped inspire it.”