Following the deadly shooting in El Paso, a young boy is stepping up with an “#ElPasoChallenge,” asking the city’s residents to perform “20 random acts of kindness” to honor those who lost their lives in the attack.
Ruben Martinez, 11, was struggling with “bad anxiety” after the mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead and dozens wounded at a Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall in his hometown of El Paso, Texas on Saturday. His mother Rose Gandarilla shared his handwritten note describing the challenge in a post on Twitter on Sunday.
“Purpose: To honor the people who got killed in our city,” the challenge reads. “How: I’ll challenge each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds for each other.”
The handwritten note lists examples of what people could do, like “mow someone’s lawn,” “visit a nursing home” and “donate to families in need,” among other acts.
Martinez also encouraged people to hold up posters, pass out flyers and share the challenge on Facebook to encourage more locals to participate.
“This will show that people from El Paso, TX are kind and care for each other,” the 11-year-old wrote.
My 11 year old came to me with an idea. #elpasoCHALLENGE He challenges ALL El Pasoans to commit 20 Random Acts of Kindness. One for every person that was killed in our city’s mass shooting. Let’s get this done El Paso. @abc7breaking @kels1142 @YsletaISD @EPPOLICE @elpasoisd pic.twitter.com/pvy5Q9G4f6— Rose (@rgandarilla99) August 5, 2019
However, the response to Gandarilla’s tweet spread far beyond just El Paso — and people from all over the country accepted Martinez’s challenge, praising him for spreading kindness, and his mother for raising a “wonderful” son.
Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan tweeted she would extend the challenge to 22 acts after the death toll from the shooting rose on Monday.
Wonderful idea - it’s a start. I’m in Colorado about 9 hours straight north of you and Ruben. #elpasochallenge Anyone else in #coleg #copolitics hashtag world want to join? 22 random acts of kindness.— Kerry Donovan (@KerryDonovanSD5) August 6, 2019
That’s awesome! I will be encouraging all my friends & family to participate as well! One person at a time we will change this country! Keep being awesome, thanks for raising a wonderful son! #elpasochallenge from California!— Christina Hacke (@HackeMom) August 6, 2019
I was raised in El Paso and now love in the Phoenix area. Kuddos to you and your son. I pledge to do the #elpasoCHALLENGE here in the Phoenix area. God bless y’all ♥️— Janet Bohler (@goblue1031) August 6, 2019
El Paso resident Chris Castaneda also posted on Facebook to show that Martinez’s activism goes beyond social media. According to his post, the “courageous” young boy went up to a group of people in a Taco Bell restaurant on Sunday and challenged them to “make El Paso a better place” in person.
Gandarilla did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment but told KVIA-TV that the goal of the challenge was to help El Paso smile after one of the darkest days in the city’s history.
"After a lot of discussion, I said, 'Why don’t you go think of something that you can do to show everybody that El Paso’s good,'" she told the El Paso news station. "You can help someone in need when they’re feeling stressed out.”
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