Audrey and Kevin McCleary had been to their favorite burger joint in Bastrop many times before. The couple often stopped at Roadhouse when returning from visiting family in College Station.
But their stop in April was different.
This time, the table was missing two usual guests: their children, Madison and Tanner. The siblings died in an auto accident Jan. 18 in Atascosa County.
The McClearys were on their way home to Charlotte after visiting their children’s grave sites when they recognized the waitress serving them. She was the same server the last time the McClearys dined there with their kids.
Wanting to make a nice gesture, the couple left a $50 tip and a message for the young lady:
“You were our waitress last time we came here with our children, Madison and Tanner, who were both killed in a car accident in January,” Audrey wrote on the receipt. “In their memory, spread kindness!”
That simple act sparked the idea for #spreadkindnessforMandT, a social media campaign Audrey started to promote good deeds done in honor of Madison and Tanner.
“We left before we could see [the waitress’] reaction but talked in the car afterwards about how it would make us feel good to do nice things like that in their memory,” Audrey said. “It wasn’t until a few months later that I came up with the idea of a hashtag slogan.”
With the hashtag, the McClearys can follow social media posts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Audrey has also created a website and Facebook page for the campaign.
“One of our biggest fears is that people won’t remember our children,” Audrey said. “They were both known for being so kind and empathetic…We wanted to do something associated with kindness to help promote their legacy. It was a way for us to try to give back to this community that has supported us so much.”
The hashtag has inspired acts of kindness around Atascosa County and is beginning to spread globally. Social media users have shared experiences from places including Chile and New York.
“I just saw it as a way we could see things that people were doing,” Audrey said. “And that’s how the message gets spread as well, because social media is so popular these days.”
Once the idea took shape, Audrey delivered about 800 bracelets with the hashtag to Jourdanton ISD schools where her children attended. The bracelets are free and available at a number of locations in the county.
“It’s a reminder for everyone. Remember to be kind,” Audrey said. “Life is short. Tomorrow is not promised to us. Live a life where you’re kind to others. The bracelets are kind of a reminder of that.”
After about two months, the #spreadkindnessforMandT Facebook page has nearly 2,000 followers. Users continue to share their stories almost daily, including as recently as last weekend. Audrey said support for the campaign has helped ease some of the pain from their loss.
“It makes it easier for [Kevin and I] to deal with them not being here,” Audrey said. “Good things are happening in honor of [Madison and Tanner] because they were such amazing kids. It just warms both of our hearts to see that it’s happening. We hope that it continues to reach across the state, across the nation, globally. It’s awesome to see people keep this going.”
Free #spreadkindnessforMandT bracelets are available at the following locations: Jourdanton Community Library; The Gym, Jourdanton; The Good Health Store, Pleasanton; Pleasanton Athletic Center; Yogurt Zone, Pleasanton; and The UPS Store, Pleasanton.