SEATTLE, WA — If you despair that growing up in a digital age robs kids of empathy — and experts say that’s one of the stories behind horrific headlines about bullying, school shootings and other pressures kids face — the timing couldn’t be better for this story of one boy’s kindness to another, a complete stranger, in the crowded Seattle Seahawks stadium.
Donovan Shaw, 8, was watching the Seahawks preseason game against the Oakland Raiders with other members of his junior league football team on Aug. 30 when he saw the boy fighting back tears as he walked aimlessly around in the stands, waiting for his father to join him. The boy and his father were attending the game with the boy’s Benson Bruins junior league football team, and it took some time for the 60 or so adults and kids to get to their seats.
Donovan saw his distress. He jumped from his seat instantly pulled the boy down beside him, put his arm around him and asked if he was OK, then chatted with him about the players and the game until the boy’s father arrived.
Donovan didn’t know anyone was watching, let alone taking pictures. But Chelsea Burke was so impressed by the compassion she was witnessing that she snapped a photo.
“You’re so used to seeing the worst of people plastered everywhere that it was so refreshing to see the innocence and sweet compassion that we’re able to instill in our children if we try hard enough to raise them the right way,” Burke wrote in a Facebook post that has turned Donovan into an internet hero. “This world needs a lot more love in it and our kids are just the beginning.”
Donovan doesn’t think he did anything remarkable.
“I saw him and just felt sorry for him,” Donovan said “So, I asked him to sit down because I wanted him to feel better.
“He didn’t know which one Russell Wilson was, so I showed him where Wilson was and other players,” Donovan continued. “I told him it was going to be OK because you should help people when they’re sad.”
That’s typical Donovan, his mother, Dana Clark, told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“That’s just how he is,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “He loves everyone and just wants to be friends with everyone. He saw a little boy tearing up. … Donovan pulled him down and talked him through it, comforted him for about 20 minutes.”
His grandmother, Joyce Clark, concurred.
“It is just in him, he wasn’t even aware of what he did,” she told Seattle Medium. “He just did it because it’s in his heart.”
Dana Clark said she has raised her son to be kind. She said Donovan’s heart “is always in the right place” because that’s the example she’s set. Now a third grader, Donovan used to ask his mom why she stopped and talked to complete strangers, she told Seattle Medium.
Her answer: “It does not cost you anything to be nice to someone. As a matter of fact, it will make you feel good to make other people feel good.”
When the Seahawks organization got wind of Donovan’s gesture, the NFL team honored him with two sideline passes to an upcoming game against the Rams.
Here is Burke’s Facebook post:
Photo by Chelsea Burke, used with permission