JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - When was the last time you stopped everything to help someone in need? Let's say that it is someone you don't even know.
The late Kevin Herrera was moved by the kindness of a stranger. In fact, this animal lover, who was director of manufacturing at FMH Conveyor in Jonesboro was brought to tears by the kindness of a stranger. How their paths crossed is the focus of this story and the reason Herrera submitted a nomination for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.
"We had just rescued Ziggy that previous weekend," Kelly Herrera, Kevin's wife said. "We drove to Nashville in Tennessee."
Ziggy was the name of their new Australian shepherd. The Herrera's, now empty-nesters, were attempting to get a routine started for their newest addition to the family. They already had another Aussie named Blue.
Before work, Kevin took Ziggy for walks.
"That particular morning, Kevin was on the street being us and he heard a car pulling out of its garage. So he went to the corner," Kelly said. "We were trying to teach Ziggy to stay and sit when a car went by…which Ziggy was doing."
It was at that moment everything went wrong.
"Kevin looked down for a minute to tell him, 'good boy," and then he felt a thud and all of a sudden he went flying," Kelly said. "He flew almost 20 feet. It knocked him out of his shoes.The driver admitted to seeing Kevin, but he also admitted to looking down at the radio."
Kevin was hit by the car backing out and his dog was running away. Four fractured ribs and lots of pain, Kevin tried to look for Ziggy; but had to give up and head to the hospital.
"I posted on Facebook. I knew that the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society had a network that looked for lost animals," Kelly said.
Since the Herrera's were fairly new to the area (having only been in Jonesboro for five months) they didn't have a lot of options to reach out for help. Who should see the post by Kelly but Lisa Trevathan from the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society.
"I would have wanted someone to go find my dog if it had been me," Trevathan said.
Lisa checked Facebook that morning, saw the post and set out to find Ziggy. After 30 minutes of searching, Lisa found the dog. She put him in her car and took a picture to post on Facebook. Within minutes, the Herreras saw their precious dog's picture as they awaited x-ray results in the emergency room.
While all seemed to be well after Ziggy was found, the situation for Kevin worsened. Kevin nor his family could know that his injuries that day would ultimately lead to his death a short time later. Before he died, Kevin wrote a letter nominating Lisa for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.
With the letter in hand, I set out to see Kevin Herrera's final wish come true. A contingent of friends, First Community President Allen Williams and a host of bank employees pulled into the parking lot of the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society one-by-one. The smiling throng snaked their way through NEAHS to a recessed room where Lisa Trevathan stood folding towels.
"Lisa Trevathan, this is your lucky day!," I said. "You are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness." Eyes wide in disbelief, Lisa asks, "Are you serious?"
"You have rescued animals and reunited pet owners with their pets and one in particular… a pet owner that was his dying wish that he let you know how much you meant to him in a moment that he needed help the most," I said. "His name is Kevin Herrera and this was his dying wish because the day you helped him was the day he was most in need—that's why we are here today."
Lisa's eyes well up with tears.
"That was the last thing he ever wrote and he wanted you to know how much you meant to them," I said. "And we want you to know how much you mean to this community."
Lisa was overwhelmed with emotion. She accepted the $408 from First Community Bank and KAIT with tears streaming down her face. NEAHS friends and volunteers hugged her and offered congratulations. Lisa knew Kevin Herrera had passed when she received a call one day from one of Kevin's friends wanting to make a donation to the shelter in his memory.
"I bawled and squalled. I had met Kevin for five minutes out here that day," Lisa said. She shook her head in disbelief. "It's hard to believe that he's gone."
No one knew how sick he had become. Days after picking up his dog from the shelter, Kevin got pneumonia then an airway distress syndrome. He went on to develop sepsis.
"His body was just fighting the infection. He ended up having cardiac arrest. He was in a coma," Kelly said. "It was a poor prognosis. We took him off of life support."
A week after the accident, Kevin was gone. His family heartbroken. But, before he died, Kevin paid a visit to the shelter, hugged Lisa and made a donation to the shelter to continue its work—so that more dogs and cats can find their forever homes.
"It only takes a blink of an eye when your life changes," Kelly said.
In death, as in life, kindness goes a long way in bridging sorrow and happiness. We are all made better when there is kindness.
Many thanks to the Herrera family for allowing us the chance to share this story after Kevin's death. Kelly has since moved from Jonesboro to California to be near one of her daughters and is trying to make a new start in life. The Australian shepherd, Ziggy, stayed in Jonesboro and took up residence with one of Kevin's co-workers at FMH Conveyor.
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