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Weddings can be expensive. But one couple in Orangeburg, New York, decided rather than spending the money on themselves, they would pay it forward with 50 acts of kindness — a single act in all 50 states.
Mark and Ismini Svensson are in the midst of doing something extraordinary.
“We both realized what really made us happy was helping people in need,” said Ismini.
While planning their wedding, the couple decided to forego the idea of a ceremony and honeymoon and instead set out to visit all 50 states. They want to perform one act of kindness in each.
“The love and support we received was tremendous and we will cherish these memories forever,” Ismini Svensson said.
They plan on picking up the entire tab and, through social media, ask people in each state what’s needed and where.
They’ve been on the road for two years and their 16-month-old daughter is along for the life-changing ride.
The couple visited a woman in North Carolina who was dying from lung cancer.
“She said, ‘I was in pain and lonely and I was praying for a miracle and then you guys opened the door and you showed up with flowers and presents, and I will never forget that,’” Ismini Svensson said.
The Svenssons have traveled by car, train, bus and plane, but not yet by boat. They call it “50 acts of giving back,” inspired by Ismini’s father, who died suddenly at a charity event.
The initiative has been so successful that people started sending them money, which they used to start their own non-profit, Stay United, geared toward helping children in New York.
“The message is everyone can do something to make a difference, even in their own communities, even if it’s a compliment to someone,” Mark said. “You never know the impact it may have on another person.”
Ismini and Mark plan to head to the Midwest next, then the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and then wrap up their incredible journey in Hawaii.
To learn more, visit stayunited.org.