Live

Watch CBSN Live

The Mississippi Dinosaur Lady

Instead of finding stories as most reporters do, CBS News Correspondent Steve Hartman uses a highly sophisticated piece of newsgathering equipment: a dart. He asks a person on the street to throw a dart at a map to help him choose where he'll go next in search of a story. Once there, he picks a subject at random from the phone book. The premise is that "Everybody Has a Story." This time he travels to Lee County, Miss.


Most people visit Lee County for The King, since he was born and raised there. The inhabitants of course are not normally dressed up in tacky jumpsuits. But you may find a woman dressed up in a dinosaur costume.

"I'm a Raktor," says Dianne Ludt, a 50-year-old, otherwise perfectly normal, mom.

She has a daughter, Nattie, and a husband, Steve, who happens to be president of Columbia Rope Company, a major manufacturer in town.

More Stories
That means Mrs. Raktor could spend her time sipping tea at the Tupelo Country Club if she wanted to. But she doesn't.

"Maybe that's a preconceived idea," she says.

Raktor stands for the Random Acts of Kindness Dinosaur. Her purpose and passion is simply to encourage kids to be kinder to one another.

Every week she holds a rally at Church Street elementary and puts up bulletin boards and ballot boxes so kids can report do-gooders.

"That's pretty much what the world needs right now," says third grader Zee Young.

Zee says kids tease her because she is overweight.

"They're just cruel, so if you can just talk to them and make them stop and think about what they say," adds Ludt.

And to that end she has been wearing her costume for six years, though it is not a very good one. Most kids can see right through it.

But it seems to work. In fact, the principal says that thanks to Raktor, troublemakers are an endangered species around the school.

"Six years ago we had 25 suspensions, and last year we had two. So it has made a difference," he notes.

And that's what became of one woman's quiet little plea for kindness. Her dream now is to share the message with other schools, as many as possible.

"Just imagine multiplying it by the millions, and how can it not be a better world?" asks Ludt.

After that she throws the dart to guide next week's journey. "Your next stop is Miami, Fla.," she says.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved

View CBS News In