A few days later, Toby and his fiancée, Leah, traveled to South Korea to meet Toby's biological father. As cameras flashed, Toby's father, Kim Jae-su, walked into the room. "I just didn't know what to do, so I just threw my arms around him and gave him a big hug," Toby says. "He started crying, and he kept saying, 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry.' I just held him tighter."
While the father and son don't share a common language, Toby practiced one phrase in Korean to say to his dad: "We've been waiting a long time, father."
Toby says while it was a little uncomfortable at first, he quickly felt a strong connection to Kim Jae-su. "He started talking about when I used to ride on his shoulders," he says. "He told me that I liked to copy what my mother was doing, so one day he came home and I had lipstick all over my face."
Perhaps the biggest moment for Toby was finally learning how he was separated from his family. "My father told me that my mother had lost me in an open-air market," Toby says. Though Kim Jae-su says he searched for Toby at police stations and orphanages, he never found him. It turns out police had taken Toby to an orphanage far from his family's home.
Toby has not met his biological mother, as she and Kim Jae-su have split up and both remarried. But Toby did get a big surprise—he has a little brother he didn't even know about! "He's about five years younger than I am, and he's so much fun to be around," Toby says. "It's so weird to be an older brother to this kid that I never even imagined having."
"I really felt like this big piece, this huge mystery in my life had been put back together," Toby says.
Toby's adoptive parents, Mike and Deborah, have never met Kim Jae-su—until now! Kim Jae-su came all the way to Chicago to see his son again and meet the couple who raised him. "I want to thank them very much for raising him so well, remarkably."
Kim Jae-su says the reunion wouldn't have been possible if it hadn't been for a friend who was watching Toby during the Olympics. "He said he saw [Toby] in the newspaper, and he said he looked like me," Kim Jae-su says, with the help of a translator. "And also he said he looked like his younger brother as well, so that's why [I found him]."
Deborah says finding Toby's biological father was a dream come true. "[Toby's] dream was always to go to the Olympics," she says. "My secret dream inside was that through the Olympics, [with] how they always portrayed the athletes and told about their background ... he would find his birth family."
Did someone cut you off on the freeway this morning? Was your coffee a little too hot? People complain about major and minor things every day. But Pastor Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, Missouri, is trying to change all that.
In a Sunday morning sermon, Will told his congregation he wanted to make the world a complaint-free place. To prove he was serious, Will passed out purple bracelets to each church member and offered them a challenge.
"If you catch yourself complaining, you take [the bracelet] and you move it to the other wrist," Will says. "The idea is to ultimately keep it [on the same wrist] for 21 days." Will chose this length of time, he says, because scientists believe it takes that long to form a new habit.
Will believes if everyone would stop complaining, the world would be a much better place. "[I think] everybody agrees the world is not the way we would like it to be. I wonder if there's some relation between the two."
Will says he has seen positive results in the people who took on his challenge. "When they can eradicate complaining from their lives, they truly become happier," Will says. "It's like if you're not articulating the complaint, if your complaint has nowhere to go, your mind stops creating the complaint."
If you want to know the difference between a comment and a complaint, Will says to pay attention to your feelings about the issue. "If you're putting a lot of energy into it, if you want it changed, you're complaining," he says.
The challenge has exploded in popularity, and according to Will, 1.3 million people in 80 countries have requested the purple bracelets. "This is our gift to the world," he says. "We're not out to raise money. We want to raise consciousness."
When Oprah hears about Will's complaint-free challenge, she has someone in mind—her makeup artist Reggie. "[He complains] all day long. He complains that I'm not sitting still enough. He complains that I didn't bring the [false] eyelashes," Oprah says. Reggie says he'll take on the challenge! "I'm going to try. I really am, because I'm a complainer," he says.
In October 2006, Oprah gave more than 300 audience members the opportunity to experience what she calls "truly the best gift"...the gift of giving back. During Oprah's favorite giveaway ever
, each person in the audience received $1,000 to donate to a charitable cause of their choice. Several months later, the challenge is still going strong—and has even gone international!
When audience members Valerie Creedon and Kelly Blask heard about a baby in Ireland who was in need of serious medical attention, they instantly knew they wanted to help.
Baby Joshua has arthrogryposis, a disease that forces his joints to contract. When he was born, his hands were curled into his chest, and his legs were bent back so far that his tiny feet touched his back.
Despite Joshua's problems, his mother Gillian didn't focus on his imperfections. "I remember telling people that there were a few problems with his hands and legs, but apart from that, he was perfect," she says. "And I think that's how we'll always see him."
Though Gillian tried to stay positive, life for Joshua was hard. Doctors told her that Joshua would never sit up or walk, and Gillian says that dressing him was "a nightmare." "It was hurting him. It was physically hurting him."
Doctors told Gillian and her husband that they had a difficult choice to make: Either Joshua would have to go through two decades of painful surgeries—or they could remove his legs. After much consideration, Gillian and her husband made their decision. "He was exactly 1 month old when he had both legs amputated," Gillian says.
Valerie and Kelly decided to use their Pay It Forward Challenge money to help baby Joshua's family pay for his medical care. But as one phone call turned into many, the pair realized they could do so much more!
Through overwhelming contributions, Valerie and Kelly arranged for Joshua to be treated at a Shriner's Hospital in the United States. Then they met prosthetic limbs expert Greg Greenway, who gave them great news. "Greg said there was absolutely no question that he could walk, but that we had to start as soon as possible," Gillian says.
Greg arranges for Joshua to get a tiny new pair of legs—complete with his very first pair of shoes! Greg says Joshua will have to be fitted for a new pair of legs each year as he grows. "Our hope is to give Joshua something so he can start to establish some standing balance," Greg says. "As he gets that balance and strengthens the core, then he can start to hopefully take some steps."
Gillian is overwhelmed. "Because of Pay It Forward and what these women did, my son was able to sit up and blow out his birthday candles. The future is just burning with possibilities for Joshua now."
Once they were in the giving spirit, Valerie and Kelly just couldn't stop! After helping Joshua and his family, the pair set up a nonprofit organization called Pay It Forward for Hope.
Valerie says the organization's goal is to help children with complex medical needs, like Joshua, and their families. According to Kelly, Pay It Forward for Hope has raised $12,000 in cash donations and much more in donated services so far.
Through their organization, Valerie and Kelly want to continue the spirit of the Pay It Forward Challenge beyond the people whose lives they touch. "The kids we help, hopefully they'll be able to help someone else," Valerie says.
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