Happy couples break up, sunny days turn into thunderstorms, and the most certain of plans can change in an instant. You never know what life will throw at you, and it’s impossible to escape the highs and lows of existence. We all must at some point come to terms with circumstances beyond our control — but that doesn’t mean everyone does so in the same way.
When Steve Dezember of Georgia received life-changing news from a doctor, it would’ve been easy for him to roll over for the seemingly insurmountable hurdles that life threw at him. Instead, however, the young man had an unusual reaction that left his family and friends speechless.
But before he was hit with bad news, Steve Dezember found himself in a very fortunate position. The 24 year old had just made grave mistake that could’ve very well ruined his life. In a way, however, he got lucky.
Steve Dezember – Facebook
See, one night, after drinking too much, Steve made the poor choice of deciding to get behind the wheel. Police noticed him driving erratically, and he was charged with a DUI. This landed Steve in a place he never expected to be.
Steve was punished with mandatory substance abuse counseling. He was assigned to a counselor named Hope Cross, and she talked him through some of his issues. They connected, but eventually parted ways.
But then, in 2011, four years after his DUI, Steve ran into Hope at a gathering of mutual friends. Despite some initial awkwardness, the two hit it off and planned a romantic date for the following night.
Steve pulled out all the stops on the first date, trying to impress Hope. He made her a crab dinner, and they ate by candlelight while talking for hours. However, amidst the chemistry, Hope noticed something was off.
Hope had noticed that Steve’s hands were shaking, and at times he didn’t seem to have complete control over them. However, Steve reassured her’d already seen doctors who had told him the tremors were merely the result of old hockey-related injuries.
Four months later, doctors informed Steve that his shaking was not, in fact, hockey-related. In August of 2011, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the disease that afflicted Lou Gehrig and scientist Stephen Hawking. Doctors told him he had two to five years to live.
Naturally, the young couple was devastated. And while they loved each other deeply, Steve didn’t want his condition to hold Hope back from living her life to the fullest. Although it broke his heart, he told her that he understood if she wanted to leave him.
Amazingly, Hope’s feelings for Steve were so strong, even after only four months, that she knew she could never be without him. She reassured him that she would stay around through the bad times. What Steve did next, no one could have anticipated.
Overcome with emotion, and wanting to take full advantage of whatever years he had left, Steve got down on one knee and proposed to an overjoyed Hope. The two walked down the aisle in October of that year, completely unaware of just how much heartache was in store for them.
Steve wasted no time in trying to manage his condition. The day after the wedding, he enrolled in a blind clinical trial. In the midst of such a bleak prognosis, the couple held out hope for a cure.
However mere optimism alone wasn’t enough to stave off Steve’s ALS symptoms. Tragically, within only five months of marriage, Steve’s condition deteriorated to the point where he was wheelchair-bound.
In early 2012, Hope made the ultimate sacrifice for her husband. She quit her job as a therapist and devoted herself to taking care of him full time. However, instead of wasting any of the time they had left, the couple spent the next 18 months travelling all across America.
One particularly poignant memory occurred at a festival in Florida when, despite Steve’s physical limitations, Hope could lift him up so they could dance together. And less than a month later, Hope would need this happy memory more than anything.
The pair was in Pennsylvania when they had to fly home to Georgia abruptly. Steve had come down with pneumonia, and underwent an emergency tracheotomy. Though he survived the operation, he would never speak again.
The loss of Steve’s voice was only the beginning of a spiral of deterioration. Over the course of his sickness, Steve was declared legally dead twice, lost so much weight that he was a mere 67 pounds, and ultimately ended up having to use a feeding tube.
By January of 2014, Steve was on a breathing ventilator. Although he was bedridden, Hope continued to care for him and the two developed a communication system using eye-tracking technology. Steve wouldn’t give up in the face of adversity, though. He found incredibly creative ways of showing his love for his wife.
When Hope’s 30th birthday rolled around, she was in for a shocking surprise. Steve had planned out an entire party for her using only his eyes. He’d arranged for a photo-shoot, complete with hair and makeup, at a friend’s horse farm. Hope could hardly believe it.
It had always been the couple’s goal to spread awareness on ALS in order to help others going through it. To help achieve this aim, Steve and Hope starred in a 2012 documentary entitled Hope For Steve.
By 2019, Hope and Steve still shared one special activity in common: painting. When paint was applied to Steve’s wheelchair, he could direct it to where he wanted to go, creating a beautiful original artwork.
Fortunately for Hope and Steve, they weren’t alone in spreading awareness about ALS. Just a few states away, Durham, North Carolina, resident Chris Rosati was doing his best to help Steve and others like him out.
Chris Rosati / Facebook
Because in 2012, Chris, too, was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The news came as a shock to the Rosatis, and with no cure for the disease, it appeared that Chris’ charmed life would soon come to a tragic end.
But while most would crumble under the weight of such a diagnosis, Chris instead saw it as an opportunity to reevaluate what was important in his life. He refocused his energy on what he truly felt mattered most: his family.
“We’re missing the greatest experience we’ll ever have, ever,” Chris said of his and most other providers’ tendency to put work before family. “You always think that people who are dying want to get up early and watch the sunrise. I don’t. I like to sleep – but if my kids get up early, I want that experience.”
Chris was determined to spread as much kindness as he could to as many people as possible. But while most would expect him to do something like work at a soup kitchen or build houses for the homeless, Chris had a different idea in mind: he was going to become a thief.
In true Robin Hood fashion, Chris’ plan was to steal a Krispy Kreme delivery truck, drive it to the nearest elementary school, and spend the day handing out free to doughnuts to kids. He even officially applied to be a driver for the company to further add to the story of his daring heist.
“I knew I wouldn’t get the job,” Chris told CBS News in January 2014. “But at least then I could say when they arrested me, ‘Hey, man, I applied.'”
Unfortunately, Chris’ scheme never came to fruition, but his desire to brighten the lives of those in his community hadn’t fallen on deaf ears. Catching wind of his plan through a Facebook post, Krispy Kreme contacted Chris directly with an offer he never expected.
While most companies wouldn’t see the funny side in someone threatening to rob them, Krispy Kreme decided to help makes Chris’ plan a reality. Sending him two trucks stocked with Krispy Kremes, the doughnut giant appointed Chris their newest driver.
Shelly Leslie WRAL / Twitter
Chris traveled to a number of places that day, including a children’s hospital and a local park, and handed out doughnuts to hundreds of lucky kids. “We’re glad to make some people smile,” Chris told CBS News as he doled out the glazed treats.
Even with so many made happy by his kindness Chris didn’t stop there, as he was determined to spread joy beyond just Durham. But instead of handing out doughnuts, he began handing out something else entirely: money.
Dubbing his new initiative “Butterfly Grants,” Chris began handing out fifty-dollar bills to children everywhere he went. After giving them the cash, Chris then encouraged the kids to live life to the fullest and use the money to change the world, just as he did.
Chris Rosati / GoFundMe
This new plan was even more successful than the last, and pretty soon “Butterfly Grants” had become a national sensation. People everywhere adopted Chris’ initiative, and teachers petitioned to have the program instituted in their classrooms.
Chris Rosati / Facebook
“I believe that most students are thirsty for ways to make a difference in the world,” explained Dr. Judith Palmer, an advocate for the program. “They do see the needs. I have found our students to be socially aware and determined to become change-makers.”
Not only did Chris start a nationwide movement, but he also got to see the fruits of his movement firsthand. After handing $50 to two young girls at a diner and encouraging them to change the world, Chris never expected how far his gift would actually go.
CBS Sunday Morning / YouTube
With their father having once worked in Sierra Leone as a member of the Peace Corps, the two girls sent their “Butterfly Grants” to the village where he had stayed. Using the money, the villagers held a great feast, and Chris received dozens of thank yous.
CBS Sunday Morning / YouTube
But through it all, Chris made sure to spend as much time as he could with his daughters, taking them on amazing trips and treating them to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. However, despite his new attitude, the girls insisted that their father had always been this way.
Chris Rosati / Facebook
“That dad who has ALS was the dad I was born with,” eldest daughter Logan said of her father in 2014. “[He] tried to make friends with the world. I think it’s hard to do that. So I’m proud of him.”
Sadly, Chris’ battle with ALS came to an end in October of 2017, and he passed away at the age of 46. But even after leaving this world behind, Chris still had one more mission of kindness to share.
At the funeral service held for Chris the following month, each guest was given one very special gift: a one-dollar bill. With it, Chris hoped that everyone there, from children to adults, would find a way to change the world.