The Giesting family has planned a Random Acts of Kindness day for Oct. 22, 2017, in memory of Archbishop McNicholas High School graduate and army veteran Brad Giesting. Giesting died from cancer on Oct. 22, 2016. His family created RAK day as a way to remember him by repaying and expanding upon the kindness others have shown them since the time Giesting was diagnosed with liposarcoma cancer in 2013.
“Our family has been beyond blessed by the kindness people have shown to us since Brad was first diagnosed. Since that time, we have said that one day we were going to return the favor somehow, someway,” Giesting’s sister, Emily White, said.
The Giesting family saw a Facebook post about someone receiving a random act of kindness, and they decided to celebrate a day of random acts of kindness on the one year anniversary of Giesting’s death. They built their own Facebook page, @bradsblessingsRAK, in order to launch their “Brad’s Blessings” movement and spread the news about ways people could show kindness to others. As the Giestings prepared for RAK day by baking cookies, buying books to donate to local schools, and visiting Giesting’s favorite places, the greater community, including McNicholas, found ways to be involved.
Giesting loved McNicholas and was very dedicated to the school, according to McNicholas Theology teacher Mary Beth Sandmann. “He was just a very easygoing guy who was willing to jump in if you just asked,” she said.
Giesting graduated from McNicholas in 2004. He married Class of 2005 McNicholas graduate Annie Watson in 2008, and they had two daughters, Hailey and Lucy, in 2010 and 2011. When Giesting died in 2016, McNicholas students waved American flags along Beechmont Avenue during the funeral procession to comfort the family. White said that she was “amazed at how all of the kids … displayed so much respect for the loss of a life that means so much to [her] family and [was] yet a complete stranger to many of them.”
Sandmann challenged the students in her classes to participate in RAK day. “You guys are already kind,” she said to her seventh bell class, “do something beyond what you already do.” Sandmann, along with the other theology teachers, gave her students small random acts of kindness cards to hand to the people with whom they would be sharing kind acts, and she led the McNicholas Art Club in drawing posters about kindness to hang around the school.
“I was thrilled to hear that teachers at [McNicholas] were encouraging students to participate. Kids need to be reminded that there is still good in the world and that the smallest act can really make a huge impact in someone’s life,” White said. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, McNicholas students became recipients of a random act of kindness amid the ones they have been sharing when they received Halloween-themed snack packs in the lobby.
In the future, the Giesting family plans to celebrate RAK day each year. White said they will hold a fundraiser in January of 2018 to raise money for future random acts of kindness, and they are thinking of starting a Brad’s Blessings foundation so the movement can grow beyond a once yearly celebration. There is also the possibility the family will start a scholarship fund at McNicholas in Giesting’s name.
White said she wanted people to know that, “[the Giestings] are truly thankful for all of the love, support, and kindness that has been shown to [them] from the [McNicholas] community. Just like Brad, it will never be forgotten.”
Posters about kindness hang in the hallways of Archbishop McNicholas High School in celebration of Random Acts of Kindness day. The McNicholas art club created the posters on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to encourage students to participate in spreading random acts of kindness in the community.