July 13th, 2011, is the day that rocked my world forever. That is the day that my dear, sweet husband died very suddenly of a massive heart-attack at age 46, after only 4.5 years of a beautiful and loving marriage together. In 2012, I started the first ever PAY IT FORWARD FOR DON SHEPHERD DAY. My husband was the most kind and selfless person I have ever met, and his love for all things music and animals was like nothing I have ever seen. He loved to take care of people and animals, and make sure they were safe, and his passion for all things music, especially guitar, was truly a beautiful thing, and was what originally brought us together. He was amazing.
Pay it Forward for Don Day not only helped me get through the horrors of reliving that awful day that he died, but it has also helped many other people, in his name. It is something I will do every single year, on July 13th, for the rest of my life. In the past 4 PIF events,, over 150 people participated in this day each time, sharing their stories of kindness in words and pictures, all around the world.
The concept is simple:
On July 13th, do something kind for someone else, in Don Shepherd’s name. Big or small. Stranger or friend.
This next part is important. Tell me what you did. Write it out on my Facebook Wall/page on that day, or send me an email with your story. (email@example.com) Be sure to include what you did, any details about it such as what it was like or how it felt, any pictures you might have about what you did or video, and your name and where you are from. All of your stories will be written in this blog (ripthelifeiknew.com) , and the most creative Pay it Forwards from the past 4 years will make it into a TOP TEN LIST of the Most Memorable Pay it Forwards, in my Book, which is tentatively scheduled for a 2017 release. (Yes, I know this date keeps changing. Lol. Im doing my best!!!)
There are many, many things you can do on this day. Some people prefer acts of kindness, others prefer to make donations somewhere. If you would like to donate to something in my husband’s honor, a few suggestions of things/places that mean tons to him/us would include:
My friend , and legendary comedian and activist Elayne Boosler, runs an amazing animal foundation www.tailsofjoy.net which works with animal rescue and shelters around the country to give funding and help to animals in need everywhere. Last year, Elayne was able to help some local animals/kitties in need, in Don’s former hometown of St. Pete/Clearwater Florida, with the many donations she received from Pay it Forward Day. Go to her site to donate, and make sure you let her know your donation is for DON DAY. She will know what you mean.
My friend Michele Neff Hernandez is the founder of CAMP WIDOW and the incredible nonprofit organization Soaring Spirits International, the largest known community to connect widowed people worldwide and provide them with coping and living skills to survive this new life. I have been doing work for them for the past 3 years, including being a weekly writer for their blog – being a Regional Leader for the NYC Social Group, and being a presenter for their 3x a year Camp Widow Event. A donation to their organization would mean more funding to provide others with the opportunity to attend events like CAMP WIDOW, which are life-changing, as well as help with local regional meetup events, packets for newly widowed people that provide hope and tools, and more. You can donate at their site www.soaringspirits.org Again, PLEASE make a note somewhere in your donation that it is in honor of PAY IT FORWARD FOR DON DAY.
Please know that making a donation is only ONE way of participating. Many people did MANY other things that did not cost them one penny. It is all up to you – thats the fun of it.
July 13th is just TWO DAYS AWAY, and since this will be the 5-year mark of his death, I want to really make this one extra special. Start thinking about how YOU want to pay it forward for Don. Don’t forget to post to ME on the Facebook Event page, my personal Facebook page wall, or in my regular gmail, in writing and pictures if possible, what you did. The best part of this day is hearing all the incredible stories from people of all walks of life, coming together in love and remembrance.
Just a few things about Don Shepherd, in case you want to make your Pay It Forward/Act of Kindness in the theme of something that was special to him or part of his life:
He was Flight Crew Chief in the Air Force, and loved airplanes. His time in the military meant a lot to him. He served in Desert Storm, in Japan, and many other places.
He was an EMT for many years, both at Sunstar in Florida, at Ambu-car in Jersey City, NJ, and at Hackensack Medical Center / Vanguard in NJ. He loved his job, and always felt like people in this industry were underappreciated, so any acts of kindness toward people in EMS would be awesome.
He loved music, and played guitar. He loved old classic rock, a bit of blues and some jazz. He loved tennis and was a self-taught very good player with a killer serve. He loved cars and history and science, and building things, and tearing them down. Typical guy. He loved the Yankees a LOT. A friend of mine got his name on the Yankee board at Yankee Stadium for her Pay it Forward a couple years ago – it was amazing. He loved animals and wanted to rescue and save them all, especially kitties. He was and is a man with the biggest heart I ever knew, and a soul that will never die. This is the best way I can think of to honor his life and to keep his soul alive, and I will do this forever as his wife and his widow. It is my honor to live my life in color, because he doesn’t have that same option.
I cant wait to hear your stories. Thank you so much !!!
The Facebook Page for the Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1795288334040888/