Jaden Hayes has a lot to be sad about, and yet, the six-year-old boy from Savannah, Georgia is on a mission to put a smile on the face of everybody he comes in contact with who looks like they could use a little cheering up.
Two years ago, when Jaden was only four years old, his father passed away. Earlier this month, in the middle of the night, his mother passed, too. At the tender age of six, Jaden was already an orphan. While it’s difficult for many of us to imagine how hard it would be to go through this as an adult, going through such an extreme experience when you haven’t even reached double digits yet is a horse of another color.
Rather than sink into a depression, Jaden has decided to dedicate himself to bringing about joy in the limited way a six-year-old knows how: through smiles.
One night, while his Aunt Barbara, his mother’s sister, was tucking Jaden into bed, the boy turned to her and said, “Auntie, I’m so tired of everybody with frowny faces. We need to make people smile.” His aunt, taking this to be nothing more than a passing whim to be forgotten about by morning, told Jaden to sleep on it and see what ideas he came up with.
It didn’t take Jaden much time. Much to his Aunt’s surprise, by the time 5 A.M. rolled around, he was at her bed, armed with ideas. So, armed with an array of candy and trinkets (including tiny dinosaurs and rubber duckies), the two survivors set out for downtown Savannah, determined to bring smiles to the grumpy.
At first, strangers would meet Jaden’s presence with good-natured incredulity, politely asking the strange little boy what the present was for. Jaden replied simply, “you weren’t smiling. I want you to smile.”
In just two days, Jaden has already collected 275 smiles (he’s kept count), and his aunt couldn’t be prouder, saying “if it weren’t for him, I’d totally lose it. This young man has been through so much and lost so much in life, and he’s worried about making other people smile. Everyone said, ‘How’s he going to handle it?’ Well, he showed us.”
While it’s unclear how long Jaden’s smile project will continue on in the future, one thing’s for sure: the world could do with a few more Jadens.