“I told my husband, ‘Let’s go grab a frosty and fries from Wendy’s!’ When I was a little girl, Wendy’s was one of my favorite places to eat. I hadn’t gone much as an adult, but on this one hot Friday (Good Friday) in April, I wanted to relive that childhood experience of dipping my fries into a frosty.
We pulled up and this authentic-enthusiastic-full-of-joy voice greets us and takes our order. I was so taken back by how joyful this man was I perked up and became a bit curious as to who was behind the headset.
It’s not every day I hear this kind of joy when someone is taking my order! Well, let me be honest, I have never heard this kind of joy from someone taking my order. Especially from a fast food restaurant.
We finally pull up and see this man grinning ear to ear, just full of life! I did something so out of character for me, but this voice told me to grab my phone and record him. At first, I brushed it off thinking I would look completely crazy. But I had yet another nudge, stronger than the first, tell me I needed to record him, so I did!
As we pulled away, I looked at my husband and said, ‘I would go back just to see that man again!’
I recorded him because I wanted to share his joy with my friends on Facebook, but knew my words would not do this man justice. My friends just needed to witness for themselves, what I had, firsthand.
As soon as I got home, I loaded the video to my Facebook page. It got a good response. Over 100 likes, some comments, and a few shares. It seemed to resonate with people. End of story, right?
Wrong, fast forward to August and this joyful guy kept popping up in my mind. I kept thinking about all his joy and wondered what made him this way! I had a strong impression that I needed to share that same video with my TikTok family, because surely this would bring a few smiles to some people over there.
Right before I went to bed one night, I loaded it to my TikTok account. I figured I would wake up and see a few comments about how great he was and how he made them smile. Well, I woke up to hundreds of comments of people telling me how amazing he is and that I should do the Venmo Challenge for him.
The Venmo Challenge is where one person collects money from their ‘followers’ (I call them my family) and then goes out and gives a tip to a stranger who usually works in fast food or is a server at a restaurant. Then they record the recipient’s reaction to the tip and post it for their ‘followers’ to see.
After receiving multiple comments about needing to do this challenge for this joyful man, I decided I would. So, I made a video letting everyone know I was starting the challenge and was hoping to raise 1,000 dollars for him. I thought about how cool this would be to tip this man 1,000 dollars from people he didn’t even know.
People started donating. I decided to go back up there and order another frosty just to get his name. Sadly, he wasn’t there but his coworker told me his name was Eric and would be back the following day. I let everyone on the TOK (TikTok) know we had a name for this gentleman.
But now, I was determined to go up there and see Eric again! I wanted to record him and share more of him with the TOK. So, you guessed it, I went back up there the next day and sure enough he was there with the exact same authentic-enthusiast-full-of-joy spirit. My son recorded him, and I shared it with my TikTok family. One of the videos went viral and quickly! The donations started pouring in so fast that my phone was dinging every minute or so. My email account had 2,000 notifications from donators. So many people wanted to donate I had to use another app to collect money. Between my phone dinging from email notifications and text message notifications, I finally turned off all notifications.
That day alone brought in roughly 15,000 dollars! I was so shocked and excited for this young man!!! I couldn’t believe so many good people were donating!
So, what did I do? I went back up to Wendy’s to see Eric to get his number. I had to come up with some kind of lie to meet up with him to give him this gift from his TikTok family. So, I told him I was a writer (not all a lie) and how people wanted to know who he was and what his story was. We needed to meet up so I could interview him for his story and learn more about who he was and why he was so joyful. Still, not all a lie, but not the real reason for our meeting.
Over the next few days, the donations kept rolling in and I was hard at work dealing with all the behind the scenes stuff that goes into something this big. Trying to plan this massive of a surprise took some brain power.
I kept the TikTok family informed and even went live four times the day before the check presentation, just to keep them in the loop on the details.
The COO of Wendy’s caught wind of what was going on and one thing led to the next. The owners of this franchise reached out to me asking me if they could be there at the check presentation. Of course, I said yes!
The big day arrives, and I am preparing my house for the check presentation, live stream for the TikTok family, and our dinner with Eric.
My husband arrives with Eric and we are waiting at the front door for him. He walks in and is shocked with who he sees (the owners of Wendy’s), that everyone is recording him, and I’m holding this massive fake check that said:
Pay To The Order Of Eric, our favorite Wendy’s guy: $40,000
For: Spreading Joy
From: Your TikTok Family
One thing I don’t think anyone saw coming with this story was how far the reach would be and the impact it would have on the lives of so many people all around the world. This story about Eric, our favorite Wendy’s guy, has reached places like New Zealand, Canada, Costa Rica, Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Jamaica, Germany, Australia, London, Ireland, and all over the United States.
The comments people were leaving on the videos are heartwarming! This has moved the world to tears. This story has united so many of us and healed people’s faith in humanity. All because a bunch of strangers (now family) saw in this guy, the same thing I did. Pure goodness and joy!
Who knew that a 27-second video could bring so much joy and happiness to the entire world! I believe it’s because the energy of pure joy is so much more powerful than all the negativity and bad that coexist with us in this world.
When I recorded Eric back in April, I had no idea how powerful his spirit truly was and how badly the world needed him.
I am so grateful I listened to my heart, even with recording him being so out of character for me. This I know, when we listen to our heart we will never be led astray. If something is placed on our heart, it’s there for a reason, and that reason is to guide us.
Our family over on the TOK really pulled together for this man. There are some amazing humans over there. Without that family, this would have never been possible.
It pays to be kind, literally and figuratively. You never know who is watching and how you are impacting their lives. Never dim your light out of fear of shinning too bright! We could use more light in this world.”
For more videos of Tracey and Eric, click here.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tracey Ferrin. You can follow her journey on her Instagram, website, and TikTok. You can purchase her book here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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