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My Garden Of Life – Paying it Forward


Jody Fuller
By Jody Fuller

I know a little about a lot and a lot about a little, but I do know a lot of people and believe that most people are inherently good. On a side note, I don’t know a lot of little people.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column on the late Don Roberts, a man who was the epitome of “good people.” I believe I’ve received more positive feedback from that column than anything I’ve ever written. Coach Roberts talked the talk and, more importantly, walked the walk.

In spite of his battle with cancer, he counted his many blessings daily and always paid it forward. In that original column, I wrote that much like Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, his presence may be stronger in the afterlife.

After reading the column, I received a message from Todd Scholl, Director of Sales and Marketing at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. I didn’t know Todd, but he knew Don Roberts.
I knew Coach Roberts for 30 years; Todd only knew him for about four years, but time is often insignificant. We have the ability to impact lives immediately. Todd moved his family here from Kansas City, and his older son felt completely disconnected.

“We found Lee Scott Academy and truly can thank Don Roberts’ influence for turning the tide for our son. He made him feel special and welcomed to this new place,” Todd wrote.

Several months ago, Todd invited Coach Roberts and his lovely wife Lorna to come and enjoy some of Ms. Annie’s famous fried chicken at the hotel, which is only available on Fridays. Due to scheduling conflicts, they were never able to make it happen.

“I am heartbroken he never made it to the lunch we had scheduled to try Ms. Annie’s fried chicken in our hotel and wondered if I can treat you in his honor for such a fine piece on a finer man?” Todd continued.

Of course, I took Todd up on his offer. I rarely pass up a free meal, so we dined with Don and in his honor. We struck up a friendship, as well. He even sent a plate home for Lucy, who at seven months pregnant wasn’t feeling very well. Todd paid it forward in more ways than one.

Just two days later, Lucy sent me to the other side of Auburn to pick up a $20 desk she’d found from a seller on Facebook. Her mother had loaned us her SUV in order to do so. It was too big for our car.
We loaded the desk into the SUV before I went on my way. As I was leaving, there was another gentleman picking up a night stand; however, it would not fit in his car. I felt his struggle. I didn’t know him from Adam’s house cat.

Since my mother-in-law had helped us, I tried to pay it forward and offered to transport his newly purchased piece of furniture for him. He took me up on my offer and even tried to pay me $20 for my troubles. That would have covered the cost of the desk, but I declined. It wasn’t out of my way anyway. Paying it forward profits the heart and soul, not the pocketbook—not that I have a pocketbook.
After unloading the night stand, we talked for a short spell. His name turned out to be John, and he is the Director of Finances at, of all places, The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. He and Todd are thick as thieves. I was mind blown. There are 100,000 people in Lee County. He could have been anyone. It was just meant to be.

Given the opportunity, we should always pay it forward by helping those in need. Heck, they don’t even have to be in need. A random act of kindness goes a long way and eventually comes full circle right back from where it started. Trust me. I’ve been blessed far more that I deserve.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com