Act Of Kindness To 4-Year-Old Cancer Patient Sparks Huge Pay-It-Forward Initiative

A little girl battling cancer is spearheading a pay-it-forward initiative after a stranger showed her kindness.


Act of kindness

Heather McKelvey was at the market with her four-year-old Catherine when she saw a rainbow birthday balloon with Unicorns in an aisle behind them. “She had to have it and I was already done checking out and was like, ‘Should I get it or should I not,” McKelvey said.

Suddenly a woman behind them in the line saw Catherine’s eagerness for the balloon and bought it for her. “She didn’t even hesitate, she just went and grabbed the balloon,” McKelvey said. Catherine and her mom thanked the woman and rushed to make it home, making McKelvey feel she didn’t thank the woman in the most genuine way.

Paying it forward


Saturday night, McKelvey took to Facebook asking for anyone who was at the store to help find the woman and thank her again. What she received was unexpected- hundreds of people shared and commented on her posts, offering other items and good deeds to Catherine and the McKelvey family.

Then, Emily Gramly and Kelley Swiney reached out to McKelvey to help organize the donations and McKelvey then suggested giving some of the donations to other families like her own affected by childhood cancer. They gathered more donations and families to receive them, and then Kelley Swiney received a text message from a friend informing Swiney she was the woman who purchased the balloon for Catherine.

“I kept referring to them as the random couple that bought a little girl a balloon, but they’re actually two of our dearest friends,” Swiney said. Debbie Culp was discovered to be the woman behind the balloon generosity.

She works in the Behavioral Health department at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where Heather and Catherine McKelvey met her Tuesday morning to thank her. “I did what I think anyone else would do,” Culp said.

These four strangers are now creating a place for families to donate items to other families affected by cancer, and as of Tuesday afternoon, 150 families had offered donations to four families.

Catherline’s family has also a GoFundMe page to help with their expenses.