Program Report: Chris Rosati and Inspire Media

Rob Chris Rosati Kyle Mumma

Pictured are Rob Everett, the speaker Chris Rosati, and Kyle Mumma. Rob introduced the Inspire Media Team

Making Durham Even More Awesome

“I know I will die soon.  I want to live the rest of my life doing good.”  This is Durham native Chris Rosati’s promise to himself and his family after he was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gerhig’s Disease in 2010,  when not yet 40 years old.  Doing good to benefit others exemplifies his life.  His work to promote goodness in the world and to encourage character building education have been recognized by several Durham organizations and include being named North Carolina Citizen of the Week by the News and Observer in 2014.

His life, or the impending shortness of it, brought into clear focus his determination to live his life to benefit the world.  He cites a study about the greatest regrets aging people have about their lives.  The number one regret is having lived a life not true to oneself but having lived according to what other people expected of you.

His company is Inspire Media.  In that endeavor he is assisted by Kyle Mumma and a host of other supporters.  A principal vehicle for getting Chris’ message of doing good is a series of short videos that give examples of his work and explain the concepts behind his projects.

Another is what he calls his “Butterfly Grants.”  The name comes from the “butterfly effect,” a concept in physics that posits that actions in one part of the world will have an impact on the other side of the globe and that these actions will be infinitely multiplied.  In human social terms, it means that one act of kindness somewhere, in Durham or Chapel Hill or Raleigh or Hillsborough for example, will have an effect somewhere else perhaps on the other side of the globe.  To extend the metaphor,  “Awesome” Durham is the great butterfly whose fluttering wings will cause rippling effects around the world and touch the lives of many.

The idea for Butterfly Grants came to him and his wife while having breakfast one day at  Elmo’s.  He saw two sisters there.  On a lark he gave each of them $50.  The only catch was they had to use the money to do something good and to make someone happy.  Time passed.  He forgot about it.  Out of nowhere an email arrived with photos.  The sisters had used the money to provide a feast for a community in Sierra Leone—where their father had worked in the Peace Corps—to celebrate becoming Ebola free!  Chris realized the impact that small grants could help to promote happiness and joy in the world.

Early on he pulled a caper—or at least claims he did—to spread happiness.  He shadowed a Krispy Kreme truck.  When the driver got out to make a delivery, Chris commandeered (stole in his words) the truck, drove it to a school, and gave away the donuts to deliriously happy children.  Instead of being arrested, Krispy Kreme embraced Chris’ enthusiasm.  The company provided a Krispy Kreme bus filled with donuts that were given to hundreds of kids at schools, playgrounds, hospitals.  (See a short clip on the “donut heist” featuring Steve Hartman “On the Road” following Chris around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOJgy9uS2OE)

Another program is the BIGG Clubs—as in BIGG smiles.  These clubs, now stretching from the Triangle through the Midwest to California, develop activities that bring smiles, joy and happiness to others.  Chris cited a project at Maureen Joy School whose students distributed homemade baskets of candy and notes of thanks and love to the bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodial staff.  This unexpected act of kindness produced not a few sniffles and wet eyes.

Chris believes—as do many teachers, parents and others—that these activities go a long way to developing character.  He is confident that the Butterfly Grants and the BIGG Clubs will produce “An army of kindness!”

More on Chris Rosati’s story is on the Inspire Media website here.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg   

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  1. […] on Chris’s story and can be found at the program report from April, the announcement of the award at the year end celebration in July, and the Inspire […]

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