Kristi Thornton said Hurricane Harvey kind of prepped her for tragedy.
During the storm, she was involved in efforts to rescue and help people in need of assistance.
When her younger brother Caleb Thornton died in car accident this year on Jan. 3, she applied the same concept by launching a campaign in his honor called 26forCaleb, which encourages people to perform acts of kindness.
Thornton also just recently unveiled the Caleb Tripp Thornton Scholarship fund created in her brother’s memory. The $2,600 scholarship is exclusive to Humble ISD and will be awarded to one student in the school district.
Applications are due in January 2019, on the one-year anniversary of her brother’s death. Applicants must be either a junior or senior, have a 3.0 grade point average, submit 25 community service hours and a one-page essay about impacting their community.
Thornton hopes to continue the scholarship fund in the future with support from sponsors and donations.
To apply for, or help support the scholarship fund, visit https://www.goingmerry.com/browse/caleb-tripp-thornton-memorial-scholarship/awards/january-2019.
Thornton’s brother is a graduate of Kingwood Park High School, where she has had the chance to share her story with students. She continues finding more opportunities to spread her message through the 26forCaleb movement in hopes of inspiring people to do good in their community.
“You have to make the best out of the worst situations,” Thornton said. “26forCaleb has really, in a way, helped me in my grief. This is an opportunity to do nice things for others. You can’t change what happened yesterday, but you can help change what happens today.”
The meaning behind the name 26forCaleb stems from a marathon Thornton was scheduled to run the week after her brother’s death. She pulled out of the race at the behest of her family because of the toll her brother’s passing had taken on her.
“I felt like I needed to do something and running that marathon had been a dream of mine,” Thornton said. “So, for every mile I was supposed to run, I asked one person to do an act of kindness.”
What started with 26 acts of kindness has now spread, inspiring participation by people across communities, and even out-of-state.
To participate, a person performs an act of kindness in Caleb’s memory and then posts a photo and description of the act on social media using the hashtag #26forCaleb.
Acts of kindness have included everything from donating groceries, to buying coffee for a stranger, or just connecting with someone in a meaningful way.
Through the 26forCaleb initiative, Thornton and several other people were able to raise $1,000 for a woman who lost her home in Harvey only three months after her husband of over 40 years passed away.