Durham ALS patient Chris Rosati helping kids spread cheer

sgilman@newsobserver.comMay 15, 2014 

Chris Rosati, a Durham resident who has the degenerative nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, poses for a photo with students who have been selected as winners in his Big Idea for the Greater Good challenge.

SAMANTHA GILMAN — sgilman@newsobserver.com

— Taking refuge from the rain, more than a dozen people gathered Thursday inside Krispy Kreme on Person Street to hear kids tell how they planned to brighten someone’s day.

Durham resident Chris Rosati, who has the degenerative nerve disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, came up with the challenge, Big Idea for the Greater Good, to get Triangle students to think of ways to inspire, cheer or encourage others.

As Krispy Kreme doughnuts slid down the hot line to be glazed in a sugary coat, the nine winners spoke about their ideas.

“It will light up someone’s day,” said Luna Murphy, 12, as she explained her idea for a game show that will direct others to do kind things. Murphy wants to put a big wheel in a mall some time next month. When people spin it, it will land on directions such as, “Give 10 hugs,” she said.

Luna said she was inspired by Rosati’s speech at her school, Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill, a couple of months ago.

“It’s just the way he’s handling things, I think, that’s crazy awesome,” she said.

Ashley Bray, 15, wants to raise money for charities, especially Keep A Breast. Ashley, a ninth-grader at School for Creative Studies, a magnet school in Durham, wants to hold challenges.

“Anything from make a song to do a cartwheel. It could be along the streets of Durham or at the mall,” she said.

Rosati, a husband and father, was diagnosed with ALS more than three years ago and has dedicated his remaining days to bringing blessings to others. As a marketing consultant, media is his specialty, so creating videos of kids’ ideas made sense.

In December, Rosati got permission from Krispy Kreme to “hijack” a delivery truck and fulfill a mischievous dream: Drive around with cops chasing him while he handed out free treats. Later, he started a nonprofit, Inspire Media, which promotes random acts of kindness.

As he traveled around speaking at schools and sharing his story, he told kids about the BIGG challenge. More than 70 students applied, and Rosati and others selected the winning ideas. His organization particularly sought ideas that could make a good viral video, because each team will have a professional media team film its event.

“That video has the ability to be shared and affect and inspire thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people,” Rosati said.

Adult volunteers will work with each team to help it plan its idea.

Krispy Kreme has granted Inspire Media a large sum of money, the amount of which Rosati would not disclose. But he did say it was nearly enough to fund everything they needed, from film crews to materials.

“We have been so moved by the response,” he said. “There is so much goodness and creativity in the students in our community. And now a lot of them will get to experience the feeling I had that day I gave away the doughnuts.”

The videos will be shown to the public at a red carpet-style event on Aug. 3 at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. For more information, go to www.inspiremedianetwork.org.

Gilman: 919-829-8955

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