Some people spend their entire lives trying to figure out how to be a good person, or how to make the world a better place. Sometimes this can be hard to do, especially if you don’t know where to start. This man was living a life that many people can only dream of having, but when received news about his health, he decided to make some changes.Chris Rosati, a resident of Durham, North Carolina, seemed to have everything that he could have ever wanted. He had a wife who adored him, two beautiful little girls, and a very good job working as a marketing vice president. He was in the best shape of his life, recently finishing his 2nd triathlon. It was obvious that the 41-year-old man was living the “American Dream.”
But everything in Chris’ life changed in 2012. Sadly, Chris was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Rosatis were completely taken by surprise when they heard the news, and since there was no cure for the deadly disease, it seemed like Chris’ charming life was going to come to an end.
Most people would break under such stressful circumstances, but not Chris. Chris used his diagnosis as an important opportunity to reevaluate what really mattered in his life. He took all of his energy and focused on what he valued most: his loving family.
“We’re missing the greatest experience we’ll ever have, ever. 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 said of himself, and others who tend to put their career before their family.
Chris also made it his purpose to spread as much kindness as he possibly could to as many people as he could. While most people would donate their time to work in a soup kitchen, or to build houses for the homeless, Chris had a much different idea!
One day, he was driving by a mini-mart when he noticed a Krispy Kreme truck. Chris always liked Krispy Kreme donuts. He began to daydream of what it would be like to jump in and start driving it. “And then just go around and give away the donuts,” he explained. Sort of like Robin Hood, robbing sweet treats from the rich and giving them to the poor.
Chris even applied for a job with Krispy Kreme! “I knew I wouldn’t get the job. But at least then I could say when they arrested me, ‘Hey, man, I applied,” Chris said in an interview with CBS News in January 2014. It seems like he really put a lot of thought into helping those kids get some free donuts.
Chris’ dream of stealing a Krispy Kreme delivery truck never happened, but his mission to help brighten the lives of the people in his community most certainly did. Krispy Kreme, who had heard about his dream to steal one of their delivery trucks through Facebook, reached out to Chris directly to make him a sweet offer that he couldn’t refuse.
As most of you know, most companies wouldn’t see the humor in a man threatening to steal from them, but Krispy Kreme actually wanted to help turn Chris’ scheme into a reality. When Krispy Kreme sent Chris two trucks filled to the brim with delicious donuts, he instantly became their newest and proudest driver.
Throughout the day, Chris visited several different places, including cancer wards, a local park, and a children’s hospital, and passed out donuts to hundreds of sugar-loving children. “We’re glad to make some people smile,” said Chris.
Chris instructed the kids he met to do random acts of kindness. He said, “If I can’t impact people then this whole thing is a waste.” His quote was seen on church signs around town and he’s purpose and mission inspired others on Facebook.
Even though he had already made plenty of people smile with his acts of kindness, he didn’t stop there because he was determined to spread happiness even further. But this time, instead of passing out delicious treats, Chris handed out something a bit more valuable.
Naming his new initiative “Butterfly Grants,” Chris started handing out fifty-dollar bills to children every time he went somewhere. And after he handed each child a crisp new fifty, he encouraged each one to always live life to the fullest and to use the money to help change the world, just like he was doing.
“Butterfly Grants” became even more successful than the Krispy Kreme deliveries, and before long, the entire nation was hearing about his “Butterfly Grants.” People all over the country took a page from Chris’ book, and teachers began to petition to have the program put into place in their schools.
Dr. Judith Palmer, a major advocate for the program, said: “I believe that most students are thirsty for ways to make a difference in the world. They do see the needs. I have found our students to be socially aware and determined to become change-makers.” And, boy, she couldn’t have been more right.
Chris not only got to see his movement spread across the country, but he also got to see it actually work. One night, Chris handed two young girls $50 a piece at a diner. Once he handed the girls the money, he explained to them that they should use it to help change the world, but Chris never expected to see how far it would go.
The girls’ father once worked as a member of the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, Africa, so the two girls sent their money to the village where he stayed. Thanks to the money that the girls sent, the entire village was able to have a feast to help them celebrate being Ebola-free. They made sure to share their thanks with Chris, as well.
Even though he was spending so much time helping others, he made sure that he spent just as much time with his own daughters, taking them on unforgettable trips and sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences with them. Even though Chris believes that his attitude changed, his daughters insist that he had always been so kind and thoughtful.
“That dad who has ALS was the dad I was born with. [He] tried to make friends with the world. I think it’s hard to do that. So I’m proud of him,” said the eldest daughter in 2014. It’s clear that Chris’ daughters have an incredible amount of love and respect for their dad.
Unfortunately, Chris lost his difficult battle with ALS in October of 2017. At the age of 46, Chris passed away from this world, but before he did, he had just one more mission of happiness to fulfill.
Chris’ funeral was held the following month, and every guest received a very special gift. They each received a one-dollar bill. Chris had hoped that every guest at his funeral, from the children to the adults, would use the dollar to try to make a difference in the world. Even on his deathbed, Chris wanted to make someone else smile.