The Caleb Effect

 

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the September 2017 Issue

The Caleb Effect

On the 9th of every month, Adam and Bernie Wile try to spread a little sunshine. They show kindness to a stranger and find a way to thank someone who has made their life better. Their goal is to make the world a better place and to encourage others to find their own simple ways to show love and kindness.

“We’ve made gifts for sick children, left extra coins at the laundromat, and volunteered at the Food Bank,” Adam said. “It’s so rewarding to help other people.” Bernie explains, “We love it when other people share stories of how they were then inspired to buy coffee for someone in line or helped a neighbor mow the lawn.” The Wiles try new “kindnesses” every month, such as:

 

Taking a plastic bag to pick up trash at their favorite frisbee golf park

 

Sending a “Thank You” cookie cake to the nurses who once helped Adam during a medical recovery

 

Creating a care package for a child who was nervous about his first overnight camp

 

Spreading Joy

On any given day, the Wiles have a supply of Hot Wheels cars in their tote bag or car to hand out to unhappy children they might encounter in a store or restaurant. Sometimes, on the 9th, they buy 25 or 30 Hot Wheels to hand out to children at the local splash pad or other community venue.

the caleb effect

The Wiles call their effort The Caleb Effect. It’s named in honor of a little boy, Caleb. Their little boy, who passed away unexpectedly last year at the age of two. The cause was attributed to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC), which is less well-known than Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). During his short life, Caleb had an effect on people. He had a special gift for bringing joy to others, even strangers. When Adam took Caleb to the store, he’d turn the shopping cart backwards because Caleb wanted a clear view of everyone, so he could wave at them.

“Caleb had a sixth sense about people who were lonely or having a bad day,” Adam said. “He’d wave and greet them with the cutest little voice. People would light up and wave back. Caleb loved everyone, no matter their ethnicity, their clothing or their favorite football team.”

“So we’re sending Caleb’s message of love to the world,” Bernie said. “We want his life to shine so much brighter than our own suffering. It’s more impactful to celebrate his life than focus on his death.”

 

Celebrating Life

The Caleb Effect is reaching further than just the Wile family. Bernie began writing a powerful website that has attracted attention around the world. As a result, the Wiles are finding their son’s love shining back at them. For example:

 

People give the Wiles Hot Wheels to hand out, Caleb’s favorite toy

 

An unknown marathon runner ran a race in memory of Caleb

 

Adam and Bernie were nominated for the KFOR Pay It 4ward program, and they gave the $400 they received to a variety of causes.

 

A little boy set up a lemonade stand and donated all his proceeds for SUDC education

“We hope that people will cherish their kids more than their smart phones,” Adam said. “I hear parents complain about going to recitals or soccer practice as if their kids are a burden. No, they are brilliant little beings. They’re a blessing. Appreciate them, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

According to the Wiles, The Caleb Effect has gone beyond the 9th of every month. It’s become a daily addiction. “It’s powerful and palpable. You can feel it.” Bernie said. “Losing our only child has been a big identity crisis. We don’t feel like parents anymore, but when we hear of people doing things to honor him, that helps.”

To learn more, visit TheCalebEffect.com or sudc.org

 

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