For a little boy's birthday party, it was a huge crowd. The boy's dad, Tom Lamb, and stepmom, Nicole, invited all of northeast Michigan to launch Chinese lanterns to celebrate what would have been their son's ninth birthday.
"I miss him so much," Tom says. "It's so hard. I just want him back."
Much of what so many people loved about Jayden Lamb can be seen in a home video. Although he had a rare form of cancer that attacked his central nervous system, he's seen lip-syncing a silly Christmas song, busting a Christmas move, right after a chemo treatment.
The kid had that kind of spirit. But it was his final words -- all his own -- that will forever stick with his father.
"He looked at me right in the eye and he said, 'I'm never going to get married, daddy,'" Tom says. "My heart sunk when he said that. I'm like, 'Why would you say that, buddy?' And he said, 'God needs me more.'"
"God needs me more" -- his last full sentence -- but the beginning of something truly remarkable.
A couple days after Jayden died, Tom and Nicole were in line to get some coffee when they decided, spur of the moment, to pay for the customer behind them in the drive-thru. It was supposed to be just a little, symbolic thank you to the community for being so supportive.
"We didn't think we were starting a chain reaction, that's for sure," Tom says.
But after posting it on Facebook, that's exactly what happened.
Waitress Sarah Mae Niemeyer got a $50 tip.
"It said, 'In memory of Jayden Lamb,' and underneath, it said, 'Merry Christmas,'" she says.
Jennifer Campbell got her entire layaway paid off. And at a Salvation Army kettle, an anonymous donor put in a diamond ring with a note that read, "Paying it forward Jayden style."
And those are just a few examples of what has become a phenomenon in and around Midland, Mich. Restaurant managers say they'll sometimes go 15 minutes without anyone paying for their own meal.
"It's an every day, all day kind of thing," says Sarah Mae
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