This is a story about Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank, who along with hundreds of less-famous or extremely wealthy people, stepped up to help a little boy whose prosthetic leg had been stolen.
Wait, I'm sorry: Stolen?
First, the obvious question. What kind of despicable lowlife steals a prosthetic leg from a four-year-old?
Yet, that's what reportedly happened. Liam Brenes, age 4, was born with a rare condition that resulted in him having his right leg amputated before his first birthday. Last month he was visiting the beach in California for the first time with his parents.
They were playing in the surf, when something we've all worried about at the beach happened. Some jerk (I'm imagining a much stronger word than "jerk" here by the way, but there's no need to get all "expletive-deleted" on Inc.com) stole all their stuff.
"Sunscreen, camera, phones - and most importantly [Liam's] 'Star Wars'-decorated prosthetic leg" where all taken, according to an account In the Orange County Register.
They took everything but the doughnuts.
"When we came back, all the stuff was gone. Except the doughnuts," Liam told the newspaper when he and his family were interviewed. "They (maybe) didn't see them."
The kid has a great attitude, obviously, and his parents were heartbroken. Other media picked up on the story. Ordinary people who didn't know the family (apparently) started a GoFundMe campaign to cover the $10,000 replacement cost for a new prosthetic leg.
And then, in swept Herjavec, one of the sharks on Shark Tank, who put up the entire cost of replacing Liam's leg.
He also threw in a VIP tour of Disneyland. (Worth noting: Disney owns both ABC, which shows Shark Tank, and--well, obviously, Disneyland.)
TIL: How much an artificial leg costs.
"It just broke my heart," Herjavec told the Los Angeles ABC affiliate:
"I mean, to think about what the little boy has gone through. And with everything that's happening in the world and so much negativity, I just thought if I had the opportunity to make him grow up in an environment where he thinks there are some good people in the world, why not?"
Earlier this month, the Shark Tank star threw a party for the four-year-old, where Liam was presented with his new Ghostbusters-themed leg. (Apparently his favorite movie had changed.)
As it happens, the GoFundMe campaign kept going--and in fact is still active--raising an additional $19,025.
Liam's parents say that since they have far more money than they'll possibly need now, they'll refund anyone who wants his or her money back. Plus, they'll use whatever is left over to send Liam to a camp for kids with prosthetic limbs, and to make donations to various charities for children who are amputees.
Kindness pays dividends.
If you watch Shark Tank, Herjavec is the Canadian with the softer heart, at least compared to his fellow shark Kevin O'Leary. The two got their television start on Dragon's Den, which is the Canadian forerunner to Shark Tank , and which is itself derived from a Japanese television show.
Herjavec has a real rags-to-riches story, having immigrated to Toronto from Croatia (then part of Yugoslavia) at age 8, after his father had been imprisoned for criticizing dictator Marshal Tito. Herjavec started several companies, and has an estimated net worth of about $200 million.
He's also had a rough couple of years, during which his marriage broke up and his kids stopped talking to him. He told People magazine that he at one point, two years ago, contemplated suicide.
What brought him back? According to reports, it looks like two things.
Second: Acts of kindness and service, like working in a homeless shelter in Seattle, where nobody knew who he was, and going on "late-night 'search and rescue missions,'" according to People.
"bringing food and other essentials to 'this whole world of people living beneath underpasses and under trees, who aren't well enough to make it into the shelter.' At one point, he bought out all of a local Walmart's inventory of socks to hand out - 'I think I've donated around 100,000 pairs,'" Herjavec said.
In this crazy year, it seems a little extra kindness goes a long way.