Ten years ago, a mother named Ashley Santi suffered a tragic loss. A TV fell on her daughter, McKenna Jodell, when she was just nine months old and she died from a traumatic brain injury. Now, to honor her late daughter, each year on McKenna’s birthday, Dec. 27, Santi does something special. She goes into a local cake shop and pays for a stranger’s cake before they pick it up.
Santi leaves a note with the cake to explain her act of kindness to the customer. This year she purchased a cake for Madison, an 11-year old girl, and Madison’s older brother, Kyle Jauregui, posted the story on Twitter.
Jauregui said his entire family was touched by Santi’s kind gesture. “We were absolutely floored,” he told BuzzFeed.
So today is my sisters birthday and when we went to pick up her cake someone had already paid for it. It was left with this card… my family was speechless and we just want to say thank you to McKenna's mom and wish McKenna a Happy Birthday. There's still good in this world 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/ev3IeQKu6q
— Kyle Jauregui (@Shhwaggy_T) December 27, 2017
“In honor of my daughter’s 10th birthday I have chosen your birthday cake to pay for,” Santi’s letter read. “Each year I do this random act of kindness because I am unable to buy my daughter a cake of her own.”
Santi got the idea for her annual tradition from the MISS Foundation, a volunteer-based organization that provides counseling, advocacy, research and education services to families experiencing the death of a child. The organization promotes random acts of kindness to help loved ones process their grief and honor their loved ones.
“It doesn’t take away the grief. Rather, it brings us closer to our precious ones and extends compassion into the world as a way to honor that love,” Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, the founder of the MISS Foundation, told BuzzFeed.
“It did make it kind of a little bit extra special just to be appreciative of my younger sister and to really be thankful for what I have,” Jauregui added. “She felt really loved and really blessed.”
A family friend put Jauregui in touch with Santi, so the family could personally thank her. They spoke on New Year’s Eve. What a beautiful way to honor a lost loved one!