In case you missed it, the “Cash Me Ousside Girl” is on track to become a millionaire this year. Don’t believe me? At first I thought this was click-bait, but I did some digging and it seems like she’s already working on a merchandise line, fielding reality TV show offers, and receiving sponsorship requests for posts on her social media platforms. And OK, none of these reports are coming from the world’s most reliable media outlets, but they do seem pretty plausible. Regardless, most of us now recognize her face from the viral meme it inspired, and it frustrates me that we’ve devoted so much time and attention to something so. . . empty. (P.S. If you’re completely lost by all of this, you’re not alone. I had to Google “cash me ousside,” back when it became a thing, because apparently I’m old now).
Don’t get me wrong – I have a solid sense of humor, and we’ve had a lot of fun in our household tossing around the catchphrase. But at the end of the day, I can think of plenty of other people who are much more deserving of our interest.
So, here it goes. . . 10 people who inspire me way more than Danielle what’s-her-face ever could. Some of these have also gone viral, but I think they’re worth revisiting.
- Sam Berns – Until the other day, I didn’t know a darn thing about Sam Berns. But then I saw a clip of his TEDxMidAtlantic talk, “My Philosophy for a Happy Life,” which he gave at the age of 17. I was so awestruck by his courage and kindness and incredible positivity, even in the face of a medical condition so severe that he died from its complications just a little over a year later. You can view the speech on YouTube, or check out the HBO documentary about his life. If you don’t have the time for either, here’s the two-minute clip that caught my eye. I promise, it’s the best two minutes you’ll spend all month.
- Liz Murray – If you do one thing for yourself this year, it should be to read Ms. Murray’s book. Breaking Night: from Homeless to Harvard is the harrowing true story of her life’s journey from desperately poor (she recalls eating chapstick and ice cubes to try to fill up her stomach), to a successful Harvard graduate. I had the privilege of hearing Liz speak at an event a couple of years ago, and as long as I live I’ll have that day burned into my memory. She was THAT good. So compelling, remarkable, and at peace with the circumstances of her upbringing and how it shaped who she is today. I really, really, really hope that you read her book. It will change how you view the world, and how you treat others.
- Matthew Garcia – You may have seen this story last year, but surprisingly, it didn’t blow up social media as much as I thought it would. Matthew – a high school senior at the time, and a football player – vaulted over a fence and onto the field to step in for a little girl’s dad when he realized she had no one there for the “daddy-daughter” portion of her cheerleading routine. The 9-year-old’s father is in the military and was deployed at the time, and Matthew noticed how upset she was to be the only one standing out there without her dad. You can read the full story here, and check out his smooth moves as he vaults over that fence. #MatthewForPresident, anyone?
- Lizzie Velasquez – Chances are you’ve seen Lizzie on social media. But what you might not know is that last year a meme went viral – making fun of Lizzie’s appearance – which is due to a medical condition. She handled it with the poise and grace that only someone of her caliber could. Imagine what the world would be like if we all handled our haters as beautifully as Lizzie.
- Emma Heffner – Meet the 8-year-old girl with a heart of gold. She’s a HUGE fan of BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Inc.) – which I totally understand, as I share her obsession. She runs the Covered in Love Mission, where she makes blankets for all of the shelter animals. Buy a blanket from her for your own pet, and she can make 5 more for the homeless animals at BARCS.
- Jax Rosebush & Reddy Weldon – You definitely saw this recent story about two five-year-olds who planned to trick their teacher by getting the same haircut. They figured with the same haircut, they’d look identical. . . even though one child is black and one is white. If kindergarteners ran the world, prejudice would’ve met its well-deserved death years ago.
- Quinn Duane – When her fiancé called off their wedding less than a week before they were due to walk down the aisle, and over $35,000 in non-refundable deposits had already been made, the Duane family threw a party for Sacramento’s homeless people. You can read the full story here. . . and contemplate the fact that some idiot groom-to-be missed out on marrying the classiest woman alive. Wherever Quinn Duane is, I hope she’s found every happiness this world can offer.
- Mo – Some people have enough personality to go by a single moniker. . . Beyonce, Prince, Bono. . . and Mo. If you’re a Baltimore local and sports fan, you probably listen to 105.7 The Fan. And if you’re not local, or you don’t care about sports, you should still listen to The Fan, because Mo – a longtime caller, elementary schooler, and future radio star – is going to melt your heart. He’s smart, funny, incredibly passionate about Baltimore sports, and has The World’s Greatest Laugh. He’s also blind. . . something he never mentioned in all his on-air calls, but which became apparent when the guys from The Fan visited his school. You might have spotted Mo at Orioles FanFest this year, and it’s one of my biggest hopes that we’ll be seeing more and more of him in the future! As Scott Garceau of 105.7 The Fan said, “Mo is everything that’s right with the world.”
- The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta – I can’t even explain this one to you, except to say that I have never witnessed anyone watch this video without crying. Several low-income children from the Boys & Girls club were offered the chance to have their dream gift. . . or to give a gift to their parents. I’m sure you can guess what they did, but what you can’t guess – and should watch – are their rationales as to why.
- The Stars of Swim Team – I had the incredible opportunity to see this film because I work for an autism organization, and one of my best friends knows one of the families featured in the documentary. This film is SO. GOOD. You want a solid underdog story? You want to examine the meaning of family and team, or maybe you just want to feel truly inspired by a group of kids who defied all the odds and all the expectations? This one’s for you.
We live in an era where information is instantly accessible. . . and we consume so much of it that we often don’t pay attention to exactly where we’re channeling our time and energy. There’s a wonderful quote, “Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are,” and it’s a powerful reminder that as consumers – even just of information – we can demand better from ourselves and our society. My challenge to you in 2017 is to focus on people like Matthew and Mo and Emma and Liz, because the world needs more of their kindness, and less “cash me ousside” attitude. Now how bow dah?
*Main image via Public Domain Pictures