Aaron’s Last Wish, and My First $500 Tip

I’ve discovered that you can learn a lot about God while watching your kids play soccer. I believe that God loves us like we’re his kids–that we are children of God. And every once in a while, while I’m watching my kids play soccer, I imagine God watching us play with each other….

If kids were awarded scholarships for eating boogies, my kids would be getting a free college education….

If you’ve never watched kids play YMCA soccer before, it is so fun. There is something so wholesome about it–being outside, kids running around, parents sitting on the sidelines cheering…. All three of my kids have played soccer now, and I love it. There is definitely a difference between the 4-5 year-old soccer and the 6-7 year old soccer. With the little ones, it’s usually a big mass of kids bunched around the ball (with one or two sitting somewhere on the field picking clovers or their nose…. Sometimes both), but at around six or seven years old, most of them start to get it. There aren’t eight kids all trying to kick the ball at the same time, they start to spread out on the field, there are considerably fewer kids sitting down on the grass and picking their noses…. Something magical happens: They become aware that there are other people on the field.

At some point in every game, a kid’s cleats will get caught in the net (a la Spiderman) and he will need help getting untangled…. much like life.

On the first game of the season in the 6 & 7 league, my oldest daughter scored three goals. After a goal is scored, the first thing a kid this age does is looks for her parents (to make sure they saw what just happened) and smiles. As fun as it is to see your child’s face beam with pride after scoring a goal, what made ME beam with pride was seeing her make an actual pass. She had the ball and could have easily kept it and tried to score, but she saw one of her teammates running ahead of her, and in an act of unselfishness that I wasn’t used seeing in kid’s soccer, she passed it ahead. TWICE! When the game was over, she was all, “Daddy, I scored three goals!” And I was like, “That is awesome, sweetie! But HOW ABOUT THOSE PASSES!!!

I was the recipient of an awesome pass a few days ago. As devotees of The Boeskool might remember from my “How To Not Be A Jackass” post, a couple of nights a week I work as a server in a local restaurant. The other night, at a particularly busy time of the evening, a guy at one of my tables stood up and started talking to me about how his brother had died about three months ago. He explained that one of his bother’s last wishes was for him to give a server a really good tip. As soon as he said this, a memory flashed in my head of having seen this video:

A moment later, he handed me $500. Now, I know that for a lot of people in this country, $500 is not that much money, but for anyone who has a job as a server, let me tell you: This is a really big deal. I had just paid a little over $500 for work done on my piece of crap car, and I was feeling particularly poor that day. The night before, my wife cashed an $8 check that my daughter received for her 8th birthday (we had already paid her the money–Don’t worry) as well as a month-old $5.60 check from the restaurant (one of the bigger checks I’ve gotten from my $2.13/hour wage) so that I could go out to lunch with a friend the next day. Though, none of these details are really that important–We are super blessed. It’s just to say that receiving a gift like this was a really big deal for me, as well as my family.

I don’t remember much of what was said, but I do remember that while this picture was being taken, I said, “I am going to blog the HELL out of this.”

I don’t remember much of our conversation–It all seemed a little surreal. I asked him what his brother’s name was, and he told me it was Aaron. Before Aaron died, he made a will and asked that if he had any money, his brother would go out for some pizza and give a server a really extravagant tip, writing “and I don’t mean 25%. I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza.” When he died he didn’t have any money, but they still wanted to honor Aaron’s wish, as well as his memory, so they scrounged together $500 and made a random server’s night. They filmed it (the video above), and within days the video had gone viral. The next thing they knew, they were on the front page of CNN.com, then guests on The Today Show…. They started a PayPal account for people who wanted to help them keep giving these gifts in Aaron’s honor, and before long the account had enough money in it for them to give over a hundred $500 tips. You can read all about it (and even donate, if you feel inspired) at aaroncollins.org, as well as their really fun Facebook page which you can see HERE.

My worries are over! This new iPhone is slightly longer than the old one….

So anyway…. Soccer. I think God cheers for us even more when we pass than when we score. In the grand scheme of things, someone receiving 500 bucks is probably not going to drastically change their life–you might be able to buy a new cell phone or an iPad or something. But witnessing an act of generosity and unselfishness–like a young man’s dying wish to make a stranger’s night, or a brother’s dedication to honoring the memory of a brother he loved–THAT kind of stuff is what really inspires people. And it changes them. And it makes God stand up on the sidelines and beam with pride at one of his kids making the pass instead of going for the glory.

I don’t know if it’s just my arteries clogging, but there is something about eating at a Waffle House that makes me tip like money is no object.

While all of this was happening, I had about eight other tables. One of the tables was a party of twelve that had been there for a while. I apologized for making them wait, and I may or may not have teared up a little as I explained what had just happened (I am kind of a wuss). They paid separately. I told them the story as I gave them back their credit cards to sign. One of the guys’ credit cards got declined, so I paid for his bill and told him it was courtesy of Aaron’s Last Wish. And then I lied to a coworker who sat down and ate in my section and told her the manager had comped her whole bill (God’ll forgive me. Besides, she still left me a fat enough tip to more than cover it…. Which is just like a server). And then the next night, on a Breakfast For Dinner date with my kids, I left the server at Waffle House a tip that he probably won’t soon forget. Right when I was feeling afraid of “not having enough,” this random set of circumstances lands Aaron’s Last Wish in my section, and all of this love was passed along to strangers that Aaron could never have foreseen when he wrote down his wish for a random act of generosity. It’s awesome.

This is a picture of Aaron. Thanks, man.

So thank you, Aaron, for your life and for your wish–I didn’t know you, but you somehow managed to change my heart in some small way. Thank you to all of the people who were so inspired by your life and by the story of your first big tip that they gave generously to keep it happening. And thank you God for calling us your kids. Thank you for being the kind of God who cheers wildly when we give up the ball and make a pass. Maybe you watch us like we watch little kids playing soccer–Maybe you don’t even care which team wins the game–Whether that team is a family, a political party, a country, a church…. Maybe you just want us to be unselfish and loving and learn how to play. Either way, thank you.

***UPDATE***

Here is the video of me getting the tip…. I’m not sure why I didn’t put this up sooner. Fair warning: I am a huge dork, so if any of my readers imagine me being cool and want to continue living in that dream world, you probably shouldn’t watch this video.

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37 Responses to Aaron’s Last Wish, and My First $500 Tip

  1. Sarah says:

    Annnnnnnnnnnnnd we start Monday morning out in tears : )

  2. Pingback: Aaron’s Last Wish, and My First $500 Tip | The Double Helix of My Life

  3. workspousestory says:

    Ooooh this is amazing! I have seen this video and heard this story a month ago – how incredible that it happened to you – just another small miracle 😉

  4. Thank you for this! I never grow tired of reading articles about Aaron. They make me cry, of course. This one made me cry out loud. But they fill me with pride–because of Aaron’s heart that made such a request and Seth’s heart that makes sure it keeps on being fulfilled. And thanks to people like you and all those who give, Aaron keeps doing good even after his life here has ended. May God richly bless you!

    • theboeskool says:

      That means so much to me, Tina. Thank you for your kind words and your kind heart.

      • You’re welcome! I am writing a book about Aaron and would like to include this if it’s okay with you.

        Not only is generosity seen in those who give money to us for Aaron’s Wish but the recipients of the $500 tips continue to pass the blessings along to others. The money comes from bighearted donors to us, and we give it to servers. They then charitably share it with others—sometimes with their co-workers and other times with us for Aaron’s Wish or with the Humane Society or some other good cause. One man paid for his customer’s food and then also covered a fellow server’s meal. He wrote on his blog:

        ‎In the grand scheme of things, someone receiving 500 bucks is probably not going to drastically change their life . . . But witnessing an act of generosity and unselfishness—like a young man’s dying wish to make a stranger’s night, or a brother’s dedication to honoring the memory of a brother he loved—THAT kind of stuff is what really inspires people. And it changes them. And it makes God stand up on the sidelines and beam with pride at one of his kids making the pass instead of going for the glory. . . So thank you, Aaron, for your life and for your wish—I didn’t know you, but you somehow managed to change my heart in some small way . . . Right when I was feeling afraid of “not having enough,” this random set of circumstances lands Aaron’s Last Wish in my section, and all of this love was passed along to strangers that Aaron could never have foreseen when he wrote down his wish for a random act of generosity. It’s awesome.

        (And I put a footnote with this blog cited.)

      • theboeskool says:

        That would be fine. You might want to make some sort of reference to the analogy about soccer so that the part about “making a pass” makes sense…. But yeah, I would be honored. : )

      • Thanks! And I’ll try to get the soccer reference in there. Good point!

  5. beautiful. all of it. thank you for sharing!

  6. maureen guroff says:

    This is awesome, thank you for sharing the whole story. So fun to watch and see your family through Facebook. Such a talented wife and awesome kids. Hmmm… good parenting!

  7. *LyndiLou* says:

    What a blessing.,. not just for you, but for everyone you were moved to love and serve as well. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. This makes my heart happy!

  8. theboeskool says:

    Mine too! Thanks for reading, LindiLou.

  9. Colleen says:

    It was a pleasure meeting you that night! I studied abroad with Aaron’s older brother, Seth. I never actually met Aaron either. I had not seen Seth or Laura Mynsberge in five years! I felt honored to be apart of their journey if even for one night. I love how that experience & set of circumstance also allowed you to pay it forward. Amazing. Incredible. Unforgettable.

  10. Pingback: Because of Aaron’s Last Wish… #gratitude continues. | Colleen Sauvé

  11. Liz Macias says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I actually heard this story a few weeks after their first video went viral and was so inspired and touched by Aaron’s story that I donated money. Sometimes in life we get so wrapped up in the things that we don’t have that we forget about all the wonderful things we have. I know I am guilty of it and then I think of Aaron and how he was taken so young and thank God for what I have. Again thanks for sharing.

  12. Briana P. says:

    Awesome read! Thank you for sharing this! Definitely got a little teared up reading it. I was a server for 5 years throughout college and I definitely know what it feels like to receive a big tip, especially when you’re struggling–it makes you feel like you are appreciated and people notice when you’re doing your job well. Coincidentally, Aaron was one of my friends. It’s tragic that such a beautiful, selfless person’s life was cut so short but when I see what he has left behind I can only hope this is the begining of it all. Even if one person hears this story and is inspired to do something kind for someone (even if you don’t have money to leave a $500 tip) then we are better off in this world than we were yesterday. Again, thank you for sharing this and more importantly for paying it forward. I love hearing the stories and seeing the videos of the recipients. God bless you

    • Briana, I am writing a book about Aaron and have one chapter with comments from Aaron’s family and friends. Would you be kind enough to allow me to use the following? If so, may I have your last name? You can write me at: tinacollins@gmail.com.

      “Aaron was one of my friends. It’s tragic that such a beautiful, selfless person’s life was cut so short; but when I see what he has left behind I can only hope this is the beginning of it all. Even if one person hears this story and is inspired to do something kind for someone (even if you don’t have money to leave a $500 tip) then we are better off in this world than we were yesterday.”

      • Briana Pfeifer says:

        Absolutely. My last name is Pfeifer. Your son had an infectious smile and a personality that you couldn’t do anything but adore. He was always around when the Olive Garden crew would go out and there was never a dull moment with him–I’d always leave with my cheeks hurting from laughing so much. Though I didn’t get to keep in touch much after he moved he is still sorely missed. I think it’s amazing what y’all are doing and it really has helped with coping as I imagine it has for you as well. I was blessed to have known him for the short while I did. Thank you for raising such amazing kids that prove there is still good in this world.

  13. Pingback: TOPPINGS – Aaron’s Last Wish – Tip $500 to a Pizza Server « The Pizza Snob

  14. Okay, now, Briana, I want to add what you just NOW said.:) I assume that is okay too? Thank you for sharing this! It warms my heart!

  15. Paul Evans says:

    Wonderful post. My first reaction was “Ah! See? There is good out there, there is hope!”…and my second reaction was “One day maybe these acts and events will happen so frequently that they won’t surprise us.” Thanks for sharing, friend.

  16. Amanda says:

    CRYING. Sharing.

  17. Pingback: Aaron's Wish

  18. Kirk says:

    From Kirk..Montreal, Canada.
    I just read your story and as thrilled as I was for you that you received $500 ( I have been following Aaron’s Wish on Youtube…) I was in shocked when I read you made $2,13 p/h ? What is the minimum wage in the U.S? or does it vary from state to state? $2.13p/h sounds almost illegal and criminal, whether you work for tips or not. I worked as a waiter here in Canada and the mininum wage is at least $10.00 p/h …and you get your tips as well.. I am shocked to know how very little you are paid. And $500 is alot of money to alot of us. You deserve it my friend. All my best
    Kirk..Montreal, Canada

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  21. Pingback: What Christians Need To Know About Tipping | The Boeskool

  22. I got a $500 tip once. I was running the back stage at the arena in Vancouver. a Lenny Kravitz concert with one of the private suites rented by the cast of TV series Stargate. Seems one of them went to high school with Lenny and bemoaned the fact he was unable to make arrangements to go back stage to say hello. I made it possible – his thank you put the $500 in my hot little hand. Very cool 🙂

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