Posted at: 01/31/2013 6:56 PM
By: Ellery McCardle
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's happened to all of us before. Someone turns your bad day into a better one by simply smiling or someone opens a door for you when your hands are full. They're small gestures but we all know they can make a big difference.
Recently one Rochester woman was the recipient of such an act. But it didn't just make her day, it helped her buy a necessity, food.
Meet Judy Leal. An active lady who spends a lot of her time at the Rochester Y for an important reason.
"They wanted me in a wheelchair a long time ago because I fall a lot," said Leal.
A good 'ole sweat keeps her on her feet. Lately, her workouts are not the only thing on her mind. She's dealing with a mystery involving a note and five dollars.
"I was so incredibly touched," said Leal.
She reads the note over and over, once more and again. Inside it reads "Buy yourself a treat, use for renting equipment...whatever you'd like! In memory of the 26 lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut. I'm doing 26 random acts of kindness. You are #20! Pay it forward in what you do!"
Pay it forward. Leal will never get tired of seeing those handwritten words, but she does get emotional.
"Teary, every time," said Leal.
Leal found the note at the Y two weeks ago.
"I went into the locker room. This card was just sitting there on the step. I saw it and ignored it, went into the gym which took about an hour and a half, came back and the card was still sitting there and i thought 'hm!' I changed, went into the whirlpool. After i came back from the whirlpool i thought 'dog gone it if it's still sitting there I gotta look!'"
Inside the neatly folded card, a powerful tribute to the 26 students and teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"The disaster in connecticut it tore my heart out i cried for days."
Then there's that five dollar bill. To most people it's nothing extraordinary. To Leal, it means a meal.
"I took the five dollars, went to Kwik Trip and got milk, bread and bananas," said Leal.
Every penny counts in her world because disability checks are her source of income. She may never find out who left the note, but Leal has her own message to deliver.
"I just want them to know what a godsend it was," said Leal.
But the story doesn’t stop here. It’s traveled THROUGH THE HALLS AND LOCKER ROOMS of the Y ever since.
"Did it put a bounce in my step? Maybe for about a week, yeah," said Steve Courts, executive director of the Rochester Y.
He says during his five years running the Y, he's never seen anything quite like it.
"You think about it and go 'hm there's things i could do,'" said Courts.
Call it luck..."anybody could've picked up that note," said Courts.
Or fate, "it went to the person it was supposed to go to that day," said Courts.
If you can take one thing from Leal's story, it's that little sometimes equals big.
"Anybody can do an act of kindness," said Courts.
"It's the little things we do day to day. If you see someone walking who does't have a smile, give them one. It doesn't coast you anything but it's amazing what it can do for someone," said Leal.
Amazement she still feels when she reads the note from someone who remains a mystery.