Caught Being Kind


I am fascinated by the word kind. And I mean the adjective form of the word. When I describe it, I think of goodness, considerate, helpful, gentle and generous. These are qualities I would hope we all strive to have and that we nurture in our children. It was actually my daughter, Julia, who got me thinking about being kind and ways we can all live our lives with it being central to what we do every day.

Back in January, Julia’s teacher sent a note home to parents that made me smile. Not only did this note reassure me that we made an excellent choice for our children’s school, but I was thrilled to see how excited my daughter was. This is what the teacher wrote to the parents:

“The Grade 2’s have accepted a Kindness Challenge! Our class displays acts of kindness daily. With the new year beginning, we are doing this challenge to go above and beyond and to push ourselves to do acts of kindness that we might not always do! In addition, to be mindful of acts of kindness that we do on a daily basis. Outside the classroom are little notes that say ‘caught being kind.’ If your child performs any act of kindness from holding the door for someone to sharing with a sibling, please feel free to take a note from the bulletin board, fill it out and I will hang it up! I think that this will be a wonderful learning and growing opportunity for all!”

True kindness, for me, is helping or doing something good for someone else without expecting anything in return. That somehow seems unnatural, really just against basic human nature. Does it make sense to be considerate and generous just because? It’s different than paying it forward because you do something truly kind not because someone else helped you but because it’s just the right thing to do.

Over the past few months, as my family has faced some struggles and stresses and I have had some days of feeling quite overwhelmed, extended family and friends have reached out to me and shown me kindness. They paid for a coffee. I got a phone call, just to talk. Some offered to take my kids for a few hours to give me a break (now THAT is kind, or maybe just crazy!). I just know they cared. And I appreciate it, all of it.

And it inspires me to be kind. Not to pay it forward or to thank them, but just because I think it’s the right thing to be a good, considerate, helpful, gentle and generous person. And I like the added twist that Julia’s teacher gave the students and their parents: she asked us to catch the kids being kind. She challenged the children to live their lives doing good things, and she asked their parents to catch them doing that.

We are quick to punish our children when we catch them doing bad things: lying, stealing, swearing, hitting, bullying, teasing and so much more. If a child is caught doing any of these, then there are consequences.

So, while I don’t believe we necessarily need to reward a child for being kind, we sure can catch them being kind. I want my daughter to know that it’s the right thing to pour a cup of water for her sister or give her brother the last piece of gum. I will acknowledge when she makes a card for her friend who is sick at home or to help her little cousin who can’t reach the light switch and she turns it on. No matter how big or small her act of kindness is, I will catch her and tell her she did the right thing. And she will grow up to be a kind person and spread kindness to others.

I am challenging you to be kind, and I am challenging your family and friends to catch you in the act. Be kind, and catch others doing it, not because you want thanks and a reward, but to encourage you to do it again and again.



I wasn’t lucky enough to meet her. I know many people who had the privilege to be in her presence. The world is a better place today because of the 18 years that Rebecca Schofield spent with us. Becca died this weekend after living with brain cancer for many years. But her legacy will live on forever because of the global kindness campaign that she created, BeccaToldMeTo.

For five years, I worked at Sears Canada, and during much of that time I helped lead the Sears Canada Charitable Foundation (SCCF). I am passionate about doing work with purpose. Going to work every day, knowing I was part of a team raising money and awareness for some important causes, was important to me. SCCF had a mission to support the healthy development of Canadian youth, with a specific focus on after-school youth development and childhood cancer.

No parent should ever have to hear the words, your child has cancer. Unfortunately, hundreds of parents hear those words across Canada every year. I was determined, in my role leading SCCF and as a human being, to help those families. We raised money in Sears stores, held local, regional and national fundraising events and volunteered as employees. Fighting childhood cancer was important to me and my colleagues.

One particular foundation, and through it an event we sponsored, was close to my heart. I worked closely with the wonderful people at the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, through our sponsorship of the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride (SNKCR), to raise funds and awareness for the fight against childhood cancer. It was through these wonderful and dedicated people that I learned about Becca.

The National Kids Cancer Ride is an annual massive fundraising event that happens in September – during childhood cancer awareness month. Cyclists dip their wheels in the Pacific Ocean in White Rock, BC, and they ride across Canada, in the end dipping their wheels in the Atlantic Ocean, in Halifax, NS. As they cycle from coast to coast they raise money (over $10 million has raised and donated since 2008) and meet children and families affected by this devastating disease.

I joined this exceptional group of cyclists for parts of NKCR between 2012-2015 (I will admit, waving to them from the RV and not a bicycle!), and over that period of time I met dozens of children and their families who were living with and beyond cancer. I also met many parents whose children were taken from them because of cancer. Each of their stories inspired me.

As I said, I did not meet Becca, who was from a community in New Brunswick. I believe the NKCR cyclists met Becca and her family during the 2017 event, and she made an indelible imprint on their lives. In our Facebook group, 2017 SNKCR and Alumni, cyclists and volunteers posted about Becca often and her incredible movement, BeccaToldMeTo.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you come from or the challenges you face in your life. Becca’s determination to create BeccaToldMeTo reminds me that anyone can do anything if you put your mind to it.

Becca challenged all of us to perform acts of kindness. But she didn’t just ask all of us to be kind, she also told us to share our acts of kindness of social media through the hashtag #BeccaToldMeTo. A person’s age and personal circumstances are irrelevant. Children can help fold the laundry. A teenager can babysit the neighbour’s kids. A young adult can donate a few dollars to a local charity.

Becca inspired all of us to be better people and make the world a better place. Through BeccaToldMeTo she will live on forever. Rest in peace, Rebbeca Schofield, and thank you for being you.

Pay it Forward

pay it forward

Helping someone in need can take many forms. There are many individuals who need help, be it financial, physical or spiritual. Some people are dealt some pretty rough cards in life, and I have always felt that it’s important to be there for people who need a helping hand. For someone who is sick, impoverished or disadvantaged in some other way, I don’t need someone to help me first in order to push me to help someone else. I just do it. The concept of Pay it Forward comes from the idea to create a ripple of kindness. One person can influence the next person to be kind, and it just spreads.

I’m all in support of that, and I even see that an international Pay it Forward Day has been established. It’s coming up on Saturday, April 28, 2018. But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to talk about how to pay it forward in other ways.

Sometimes you help someone just because it’s the right thing to do. The person you help doesn’t have to be ill, short on money or lost in any way. It can be your sister, your friend, your cousin or your current or former colleague. You can help your friend who has been close to you for 30 years or the person you met last week.

I have been the beneficiary of this concept many times in my life, and I appreciate the helping hand I got. In particular, I want to thank the many people who have helped me develop and grow in my career.

My first mentor was a tremendous man named Michael Ludlum. He was my “Writing for Broadcasting” professor during my first semester of Journalism School at New York University almost 20 years ago. I was the one student in our small class of graduate students with no experience in journalism. He recognized my raw talent and spent hours working with me, training me and giving me the confidence to be a good journalist.

Professor Ludlum, I believe, recommended my name to be a Graduate Assistant, which ensured the rest of my graduate school tuition was paid and that I secured a salary to teach young undergraduate students with him. He taught me the importance of mentorship and leadership and how to manage people in a way that helped them grow. I have passed that on to my colleagues and people who have reported to me throughout my 15 year plus career. I hope they learned something from me, via Professor Ludlum, and guide people in the right direction.

I worked with a talented group of people early in my career, in radio, at the Team Sports Radio Network. The ownership shut down the sports concept less than two years after we launched, and yes, we all lost our jobs. But my boss, and another one of my early mentors, Shawn Lavigne, stuck his neck out for me and secured a job for me at Sportsnet. He didn’t have to do that, but he just did. He recommended my name to a hiring manager, and that’s how I moved from radio to TV.

The day I got my job at Sportsnet I promised myself that I would pay it forward and help other people secure a job if they needed my help. I have to say, one of the greatest ways you can pay it forward, and get a ripple moving, is to use your influence to help someone in his or her career. It is something people do not forget, and it keeps the pay it forward momentum going.

As I have changed paths in my career there are many more people who have guided me and really helped me. But people haven’t just helped me with my career. When I faced years of fertility challenges, people offered me advice and support. When I have been overwhelmed with life (ever had a day like that?!), my friends and family were quick to reach out to be there for me. I have and will continue to pay it forward and be there for them.