The Best Letter Ever.

I wanted to share a very sweet story tonight on the blog.

A few weeks ago, Don Corrigan and I teamed up for an event at the Washington, MO Library. The two of us gave a joint presentation about tornadoes and it was a very nice evening, but by far the best moment of the night came before our speech.

I was approached by a woman named KyLee who handed me an envelope. Inside was a letter about her son Billy. The letter touched me so deeply, I wanted to share it here.

The full text is below:

Earlier this year my family and I attended Washington’s Family Reading Night. We were introduced to your book by you, Lily and Tara. Both of my boys were enthralled with the book and especially Lily. My eldest son, Billy (5 yrs), not only loved the book, but truly tried to grasp the concept of what the book was conveying. We read it every night for nearly 2 months. One night he asked me, “Mom, can we go to Joplin? I would like to give the people my piggy bank to help them.” After fighting back tears of pride and joy at my little boy’s giant heart I told him, “Absolutely.”

In May my sister-in-laws and I worked out a weekend for them to take the boys for a weekend of fun with their aunts. They happen to live near Joplin. I asked them if they would be willing to take part of a day and drive over to Joplin for Billy. He wanted to see the city and give his money to someone. They agreed. Unfortunately, he was unable to make his donation as they were unable to locate Red Cross or another similar organization. He was truly upset that he couldn’t hand his money to someone that could help him help Joplin. He came home from the weekend happy to have been able to see Joplin in its state of reconstruction. He was also confused and ready to learn more about the memorials his aunts had taken him to see. When he came home he asked me to find someone he could give his money to for Joplin.

I have looked online and found many places I could donate online. I could print the receipt for my donation and let him have it as proof of his generosity. I feel that the idea of what he wanted to do for Joplin would not be as meaningful to him in this fashion. He truly would like to hand the money to a person that he knows will give it to the people in Joplin. I believe that the act of handing his money to a person will be able to make this generous moment last a lifetime.

I read about the Tornadoes in MO program coming to our library and that you were going to attend. I felt this was the perfect situation for him to be able to hand his piggy bank to a person. I truly hope you will be able to accept this donation in person for him so that this truly heartfelt idea can become a permanent positive feeling of truly helping others in his own way.

I would like to thank you for writing this book. Your book is proof of how powerful words can truly be. Your book is proof of the power of reading. I do not know if you set out to try and shape people’s lives with your book. I will tell you that whether or not you intended to shape lives with this book, you have done exactly that with my son. I am thankful for your contribution to the personal growth of my son.
Sometimes the work that goes into writing and promoting books can seem overwhelming and even somewhat futile. But letters like this one make it all worth it. So much love and effort–between Tara, myself, Nick the illustrator, the staff at Reedy Press, Chris and Dawn at the Missouri Press Association, my writing group and others–went into the creation of Lily: A True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado. Billy’s letter reminded me why I wanted to write this book in the first place and gave me motivation to continue to work on children’s stories.
Billy’s generosity, his caring mother and this beautiful letter will always have a special place in my heart.
Thank you Billy for such a lovely dose of inspiration!