Man inspires hundreds to spread kindness

DURHAM, N.C. -- His voice is almost gone, but as we first reported last March, Chris Rosati still has a lot to say about how to make the world a better place.

His most recent revelation -- was about the butterfly effect.

The butterfly effect is this idea that a single butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the globe can, in theory, start a hurricane on the other. It's a physics concept, but Chris wondered if it could be applied to kindness as well.

"An act of kindness, how far could it go?" he wondered.

On the Road: Grand theft donut

The butterfly effect is this idea that a single butterfly flapping its wings on one side of the globe can, in theory, start a hurricane on the other. It's a physics concept, but Rosati wondered if it could be applied to kindness as well.

"An act of kindness, how far could it go?" he wondered.

Last winter he decided to test the theory at a diner in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina. He saw two girls at the table next to his and gave them each $50 with one very simple instruction -- do something kind.

Rosati says he left the diner and forgot all about it until he got an email. It included pictures from a village in Africa with people holding signs that read, "Thanks a lot for spreading kindness -- Chris Rosati."

"It was the butterfly effect," said Rosati.

hartmanbutterfly-effect-copy-02frame2796.jpg
Cate Cameron, right, and her sister Anna, left CBS News

The two girls responsible were 13-year-old Cate Cameron and her 10-year-old sister Anna. They said they couldn't believe it when a stranger gave them each $50 dollars.

"That makes you want to do something good with that money," said Anna.

The girls say they already knew about this village in Sierra Leone where their dad had worked in the Peace Corps. They knew the people there had been working hard to fight Ebola, so the girls paid for a feast to help them celebrate being Ebola-free. They say it felt great to help.

p1020285.jpg
Children in Sierra Leone hold signs thanking Chris for spreading kindness STEVE CAMERON

"It inspired me," said Anna.

"I would definitely encourage other people to do it," added Cate.

I asked Rosati what he'll do now that he's proven the butterfly effect.

"Oh man," he said. "You get a whole lot of butterflies to flap their wings."

Man with ALS shares joy of tuxedos with Steve Hartman

To that end, Rosati, who's already done so much for North Carolina, launched his latest campaign. He told screaming fans his plan to give out hundreds of little butterfly grants -- $50 each -- to any kid who wants to start changing the world.

Since this story first aired, hundreds of kids across the country have either gotten a grant or acted on their own.

"We did a bake sale for cancer in order to raise money for our cancer hospital," said one child.

"We did a project where we put a bookshelf in a soup kitchen," said another.

And it continues to spread, all these acts of kindness, all inspired by one man's simple gesture. Looks like a hurricane's brewin'.

If you're interested in being a part of Rosati's campaign, go to:http://inspiremedianetwork.org/littleBIGG/


To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.
  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.