In the spring of 2014, at age 28, Eugene Yoon felt called to perform a random act of kindness.
“I remember kind of just like looking up at the sky and saying, ‘God, are you sure about this? ‘Cause I’m pretty happy right now,'” he told CBS Evening News. “It felt like a calling, but I tried to reject it for about 2 months ’cause it was just too outlandish.”
At the time, he didn’t know what he would do, but he knew it had to be big – something that would change someone’s life for the better, forever.
When he came across a Facebook video of Arthur Renowitzky it hit him – this was the man he was supposed to help.
The two men had no connection at all. They had never met. But when Yoon heard that Renowitzky had become a paraplegic at age 20 after being mugged and shot 8 years prior, he knew he would help him walk again.
The man was the victim of a senseless crime – his muggers got only $20 in cash and a fake chain but left him in a coma for 23 days.
Renowitzky was defiant about his disability and vowed to someday regain his ability to walk. So when Yoon reached out to him out of the blue, it didn’t require much convincing.
He was, however, confused about the random offer.
“He wasn’t going to give up until I was walking again,” Renowitzky said.
But how would it work?
What made it even stranger was that Yoon had no medical training at all. In fact, his degree is in film. So what expertise could he bring to the table when it came to restoring someone’s mobility?
“This is the part – I had no idea at the time,” Yoon acknowledged to CBS Evening News.
He didn’t go to medical school or find a way to use his film degree. Instead, he quit his job and maxed out his savings in the hopes of one day buying Renowitzky a state-of-the-art $80,000 robotic exoskeleton that would allow him to stand and walk with assistance.
Yoon said goodbye to his job at a research company in Northern California and tried to raise money by embarking on an adventure.
He hoped that chronicling a journey – in which he hiked from the California-Mexico border all the way to Canada – would bring attention to his fundraising goal.
He used social media to convince people to give. And they did!
In fact, by the time he reached Washington state, he found out he had met his goal.
The good samaritan
Renowitzky is just as confused as everyone else as to why a complete stranger would suddenly take on a task like this.
“To quit his job, to go into debt from doing this, to help me get back on my feet — you don’t meet people like that every day,” he marveled.
To top it all off, there’s a happy ending to this story. Renowitzky got his exoskeleton and Yoon got to see the man walk again.
“I call him my brother now. We are brothers,” the grateful recipient of the random act of kindness said. “I’m just very thankful to have a friend like him.”
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