There was a dose of serendipity at NYU Winthrop Hospital this week regarding “paying it forward.” A man came by the hospital, asking if he could do a random act of kindness for the emergency department. It turns out the man, a South Hempstead resident and fire commissioner named Tommy Maher, founded an organization called “Honor 58” that does random acts of kindness in honor of the 58 men and women killed in the Las Vegas concert shootings last year. One special man among those victims was Sonny Melton, a 29-year-old who served as a nurse in the emergency department of a Tennessee medical center. Sonny was killed in Las Vegas while shielding his wife Heather, who is an orthopedic surgeon, from gunfire. Sonny’s brave act saved Heather’s life.
Sonny Melton’s birthday is next week, and Maher wanted him to be remembered. Maher was in for a surprise, however, when he spoke to staff within NYU Winthrop’s emergency department. As it turns out, following the Las Vegas mass shootings that left 58 dead and 851 injured, NYU Winthrop nurses felt strongly that the emergency department staff caring for the victims deserved to be cared for as well. The NYU Winthrop staff walked a mile in their shoes, figuratively, by imagining how difficult it was for the Las Vegas hospital staffs to cope. NYU Winthrop professionals wanted them to know they were not alone and, as nurses, they were part of a special family of professionals, regardless of geography.
The NYU Winthrop staff coordinated a collection to purchase lunches for the entire staff at two Las Vegas hospital emergency departments. Those colleagues, overwhelmed by the support and compassion shown, sent in return letters of appreciation and a banner of thanks with signatures from the staff.
And now here was Tommy Maher wanting to buy pizza lunches for the NYU Winthrop emergency department.
Upon hearing how those staff members had rallied in support of the Las Vegas hospitals, Tommy Maher was overcome with emotion, saying “Paying it forward really does work.”
The next day, Maher delivered 25 pizzas to the NYU Winthrop emergency department staff to honor Sonny Melton. His name will now be remembered with great kindness by a group of emergency department nurses who are very grateful that there are people in the world like the selfless Sonny Melton.
Maher has been all over the country, even making his way to Alaska, to do these random acts of kindness, with many others jumping on the bandwagon to help.
“I lost a good friend in 9/11, and when the Las Vegas shootings happened, this idea popped into my head of a way to remember the innocent victims. Now, it’s become like a movement that’s inspired others.
Visit Honor 58 on Facebook to see more random acts of kindness.