CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- To raise awareness, and to honor his son, Nolan, Chris Perez performed 10 acts of kindness across Charlotte to form a heart shape.
Perez started at his son's school, then a library. He delivered supplies for the homeless, school supplies for families in transition out of prison. While volunteering at Urban Ministry, he delivered pictures and stories from heart parents to nurses at Levine Children's Hospital, food for police, coffee for someone in line at Starbucks, lunch for someone at Panera Bread, and snacks for a random Redbox user.
"It's going to be a really great day." said Perez. "I think it was Booker T. Washington who said, 'if you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.' I really believe that's 100-percent true and it makes me feel better going into this next surgery that he has next month: That everything's going to be okay and we can use his story to really change lives in the community."
Nolan Perez was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a condition needing surgeries to allow the heart to pump normally. It has been a long road already for the young man.
"He's the toughest human being. I call him the toughest pound-for-pound human being on Earth. He went through his first open-heart surgery when he was 7-days-old. His second one when he was 7-months-old. He goes to several therapies a week." Perez added. "I remember days at therapy where he was screaming and crying as we taught him to crawl, and to walk and sit up. He's been through it with immense toughness and just smiles on his face."
Each stop brings a message about congenital heart defects and hope that his efforts are a tiny step closer to a cure.
"And giving them a good smile. That makes me smile too.," said Perez.
Perez hopes to perform acts of kindness next year as well.