Most of us have seen the movie “Pay It Forward” … a slightly cheesy romance drama with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. The premise of the film is that Spacey, playing a teacher, gives Osment, playing the student, a chance to make the world a better place through an assignment where Osment pays it forward without receiving payback. While many of us connect the concept to the movie, the reality is that the concept of paying it forward has been around much longer than 12 years.
The theory of paying it forward originates from the Greek play “Dyskolos” circa 317 BC. From there the concept meanders through popular culture in the form of essays, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 “Compensation” and novels like Lloyd C. Douglass’ 1929 “Magnificent Obsession”. Enough with the history lesson … let’s get down to the heart of the matter … where does the act of paying it forward originate from?
We pay it forward every day
In our lives we pay it forward without realizing it. Whether it is letting someone cut in front of you in traffic because someone else paid you the same favor earlier, or holding the door for a mother with a child in tow because some kind person held the door for you when you had an armful of groceries … we all experience paying it forward. Yet how often are we the originators of the deed?
Ask that question of Kalin Koychev, a 33-year-old native of Bulgaria that currently resides in Wheeling, IL. Koychev read an article in the local suburban newspaper “Daily Herald” about a young boy that was in need of a kidney transplant. Without hesitation, and with the support of his family, Koychev volunteered to get tested to see if he was a match. As the cosmos would have it, Koychev was a match. Again, without hesitation, Koychev dove in without ever having had a surgical procedure in his life before. With his faith and family behind him, Koychev donated his kidney to Nathan Saavedra on June, 21, 2012 … everyone is doing well.
A single person can make a big difference… and inspire many to pay it forward!
Koychev’s original act of selflessness and paying it forward inspired those around him. An employee at Montway Auto Transport, Koychev’s employer and coworkers were unaware of his kind act until just days before his surgery when he informed his employer that he was going to need some time off. Moved by Koychev’s situation, Montway offered him the time off he would need to recover with full pay and benefits. In addition, Montway made a donation to Saavedra’s fund at Harris Bank to aid the family in paying for their hospital bill and to the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois to support a summer Kidney Camp for kids with chronic kidney disease, on dialysis or living with kidney transplant. One act of kindness motivating another.
Mihail Mihailov, CEO of Montway Auto Transport said, “Today it is very rare to witness such acts of humanity. This really touched all of us at Montway and we felt we had to magnify the good deed. Kalin is a very humble person and we are happy to have him onboard.”
Talking to a friend the other day about this, she commented that she couldn’t believe the amount of people that were moved by this story, leading to an uptick in the number of people trying to donate to others … so she had heard. I thought to myself, “isn’t this what it is all about?” The concept of paying it forward isn’t just about a single act from one individual to another to another … it’s about a ripple effect that brings the cycle of the practice full circle. That just by being exposed to acts of kindness that we ourselves become kinder in the process.