Collecting Kindness


It’s contagious—and Marjon thinks everyone should be a carrier.

Some are written on scraps of paper, and some are typed. Some are in pencil by children who are just learning to write, and some are from high school students. The sheets of paper that Marjon Brady collects all have one thing in common: each lists a good deed.

One day when I was walking in the Arizona heat, someone stopped me on the side of the road and handed me half a gallon of water. At first I told those who offered it that I was fine, but they insisted so I consented.—Geoff

My dad and I mowed the lawn for someone who was hurt in a crash.—Brad

There are literally hundreds of short stories in Marjon’s scrapbook telling of good deeds. She gladly shows her collection to anybody interested in looking. But the collection begs the question: Why?

Marjon was Miss Rodeo USA for 2000. Her reign ended at the beginning of this year. For the competition, one thing she needed was a platform she could implement that would help improve society. After much thought, she decided on something she called Kickin’ up Kindness. Marjon wanted to illustrate how good people can be to each other and to encourage them to look for opportunities to serve others.

“This platform is very special to me because of what it represents. It’s about charity and the pure love of Christ,” she says. “That’s what Christ demonstrated in His life. I then thought if I broadened charity into kindness, I could go from there.”

That’s how it started in January 2000. A year later, her scrapbooks are stuffed. During the opportunities she had to speak at schools, Marjon asked children and teenagers wherever she went to write and talk about good deeds—whether they had done them, seen them done, or had them done to them.

“These kids were huge examples to me because of the stories I heard,” she says.

As Miss Rodeo USA, Marjon, a member of the Valley View Ward in the Citrus Heights (Arizona) Stake, traveled throughout the United States talking about and attending various rodeos and horse-related events. While much of what she did revolved around rodeo, her real joy came from speaking and encouraging kids to do nice things for others.

“That’s why I like Kickin’ up Kindness,” says Marjon. “We need to incorporate kindness into our lives. I’m a firm believer that kindness is contagious, and it starts in the home. I always encouraged the kids to do something nice for someone in their home. That will put the family member in a better mood, and then they’ll do something nice for someone else. We all know about the ripple effect.”

Watch the ripples.

A good deed I did was when my brother was in the hospital with diabetes. I would stay up at night and make him laugh!—Heather

I usually help my little brother with his homework. He is in the second grade. I also help my mom around the house and my sister with her chores.—Unsigned

When Marjon was younger, she watched her older sister, Shanda, compete for the crown Marjon later won. Shanda finished as second runner-up. “Shanda was a huge example to me,” explains Marjon. “When I first saw Miss Rodeo USA, I thought it was really neat. But I didn’t think, How can I do that? But when my sister went through it I thought, What a good goal to have.”

A good goal, mainly because horses have been a major part of Marjon’s life for as long as she can remember. Marjon’s family would go camping and fishing with their horses. They played tag on their horses, picked oranges from nearby trees while on horseback, and rode horses whenever they could. “Everything we could do incorporated horses,” she adds.

Running for Miss Rodeo USA was a natural. “It involved my horse, it involved improving myself, and it involved charity. Those are the three things that really hooked me onto this,” she says.

Marjon developed Kickin’ up Kindness as an extension of all three.

There is a boy in school and no one likes him. They all make fun of him. But I talk to him. I tell him hi. I am nice to him. I hang around with him. I even tell people to leave him alone.—Leia

One time I called my grandmother just to say “I love you.”—Whitney

Marjon had some definite things she wanted to accomplish as queen, and not long after she was crowned, Kickin’ up Kindness made its debut. She had 20 minutes to speak in front of a group of elementary school students.

“I needed to keep them really involved because I could easily lose their attention,” she says, remembering the day. After she spent some time explaining Kickin’ up Kindness, she handed each child a pencil and paper. “The more I could have them doing things, the better. So I asked them to write about kind deeds.”

The results were both heartwarming and fascinating.

I have helped my dad when he needed money. I have given him my money to help him keep up with bills, food, and other things for our family.—Kim

One day my mom was sick, so I took care of my two sisters so my mom could rest.—Amanda

My best friend’s parents were going through a divorce. She needed comfort. I helped her through that.—Kelly

Marjon continues, “Looking back, I see the positive changes Kickin’ up Kindness has had on me and on other people. When I’m in a school assembly, I ask the children to show me their very best smiles because, to me, one of the best ways you can show kindness is to smile at people. A smile is contagious. Everyone understands what a smile means.”

Marjon then reads some more of the notes she’s received.

I typed my friend’s paper because she’s not very good at typing things up.—Jenny

One thing I did was help my friend find his lost dog.—Joe

I am nice to people.—Freddy

She could go on and on. There is page after page of similar good-deed notes. Instead Marjon puts her scrapbook down. Each one she reads brings a smile to her face. And she’s right. A smile is contagious.

[photos] Photography by Laury Livsey and courtesy of the Brady family

[photos] Marjon Brady took advantage of her position as Miss Rodeo USA to discover and reinforce the nice things kids are doing for others.

[photos] Marjon has always been interested in horses, so she viewed Miss Rodeo USA as a natural extension of what she enjoys. “It involved improving myself, and it involved charity.”