Just when you think the world is void of good people and good deeds, you read stories like this one.
Recently, a generous stranger bought a plane ticket for a homeless mother to watch her three daughters compete at the Junior Olympic Games in Texas. Sisters Tai Sheppard, 11, Rainn Sheppard, 10, and Brooke Sheppard, 8, all made it the team this year competing in track, but their mother Tonia Handy couldn’t travel to watch her girls.
“I’m not going because the shelter has a curfew and I still have to work,” Handy said last week. “It’s not that kind of job where you can take time off. You don’t go, you don’t get paid.”
But thankfully that changed with the help of Ken Smaltz Jr., he felt compelled to help the Sheppards out when he read about the family in the news.
“It just feels nice to help someone,” Smaltz told the Associated Press, who had no intention of making his gift a public affair.
And with Smaltz’ gift, Handy surprised her daughters on August 1 to watch her babies live out the dreams.
“I couldn’t believe she was here. I still can’t believe it,” Rainn told the AP.
For this Sheppards, this act of kindness means a lot, especially given how hard they’ve had it for the past few years.
As HELLO BEAUTIFUL previously reported, the sisters live with their mother, who works as a phone operator at a car service, and saw tough times when the girls’ half-brother was murdered. The Associated Press wrote that soon after, Hardy and her family were evicted from their Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment for failing to pay the rent. They were then placed in a motel shelter in Queens and later to another shelter in Brooklyn.
But with the help of a babysitter, the girls got involved in track, which didn’t involve any entrance fees, and they quickly caught the eye of the famed Jeuness Track Club. The owner, Jean Bell, was instantly impressed by the young girls, but had no idea they were all related. By the end of the first day, Bell gave her business cards to each of the girls separately with the instructions to have their mother call or just show up to practice.
And with hard work and lots of practice, the sisters found themselves qualifying for the Junior Olympics in multiple events, including the 3,000, 1,500, and 800-meter run as well as the high jump.
What a nice ending to this story.