BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - We all run the race of life. Some run the race a little differently than others. A fork in the road can divert us off-course, perhaps cause us to panic for a bit. But there are people who come along and help us find our way again.
March's Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner is just that kind of guy. Catching up with him isn't easy. You better have your tennis shoes on!
It's Saturday morning in Brookland. You can hear the soft crunches of shoes pounding the pavement. At first, the sounds are distant, but grow louder as a group of runners appears to keep a tight formation in the distance.
Among them is Dan Ring. His friends arranged a morning run so that they could get Dan in front of our camera and a waiting group of volunteers ready to reward him with $408 in cash from First Community Bank.
Not knowing a thing, Ring hears our cheers and runs right into the welcoming throng.
"We are cheering for you today, Dan Ring," Region 8's Diana Davis said, clapping with the group.
He looks at us curiously but smiling.
"We see you often running from Paragould to Jonesboro and Brookland. But, that's not why we're here today," Diana said. "We've heard about you running 60 miles on your 60th birthday. But, that's not why we're here today either. We're here today because you are our next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness. And all of these wonderful folks knew about it. DeShawnna DeFord is the one that nominated you."
"Every time I see Dan he is smiling," DeShawnna DeFord said. "Dan has been through a lot but continues to show the love of Christ in all he does."
"The reason why we're here is a man named Joe," I said. "You shared his story on the internet around Christmastime, and you talked about how he didn't have food and drew out attention to the fact that people in Region 8 are living this way and what happened from there was amazing. It was because of you."
"Believe it or not, it was a friend that said—there's somebody living underneath the bridge in Paragould. Somebody needs to check on him," Ring said. "I thought ok. I'll go check on him."
And then, Dan wrote about his new friend, Joe, on Facebook.
"The outpouring was overwhelming. Just people reaching out and wanting to help," Ring said.
Helping with clothes, money, food and shelter, it all came pouring.
The kindness that touches the heart, but this next part of the story could break your heart.
"I loved my son. Me and Jason had a great relationship," Ring said. "I can talk about him. I can talk about my wife and smile because hey—it's all good."
This is why Dan Ring puts one foot in front of the other every day. He lost his wife to cancer and his son to a car accident. It was almost enough to break him.
"For five and a half years, we lived every day as it if was the last," Ring said. "And for that, I'm grateful."
The loss of his son came after that. A car accident.
"You get a call at midnight. It's that call no parent wants to get," said Ring.
As much as life has taken from him, Dan gives.
"What he has been through, I can't even imagine," DeFord said. "And for him to be able to do that, just shows how the love of Christ shines through him and how he just loves people."
"The one thing that I have learned is that the challenges we face in life help us to help others," Ring said.
And to help people like Joe.
"Last time I talked to him, he was working," Ring said. "Not steady. But he was working, which is a good thing."
"We love you, Dan," DeFord said.
This Saturday morning and always, Dan's friends show their appreciation, and so do we.
"I'm overwhelmed," Ring said.
With money in hand and pictures were taken, you can't keep Dan still. He's off and running again.
"Running for me is a metaphor for life. We all have challenges. We all face obstacles. We're going to run down the highway," Ring said. "It's just putting one foot in front of the other."
Dan is already running to help another organization. He's organizing Colors of the Cross 5K Family Fun Run and Walk which is happening Saturday, April 15 at 10:30 a.m. It's all to support the Pregnancy Resource Center in Jonesboro. Online registration is underway now.
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