It was August 2004, and the Bruce family from Seattle was visiting Edmonton for a wedding, when a group of strangers bestowed a random act of kindness upon them.
With some time to kill, the couple saw a sign advertising the Women’s Baseball World Cup at the old Telus Field.
“My husband played baseball, I played softball, so we went to watch a ball game,” Sharon Bruce recalled.
The Bruces and their baby boy, Leo, quickly made friends with a group of fellow ball fans in their 50s or 60s.
“There was a half dozen of them, just sitting behind us. Sadly we never took a picture, but they loved Leo with his little chubby cheeks. We tossed him back there and they played with him and whatnot,” Sharon explained. “They were very fun, lovely people.”
When someone came around selling 50/50 tickets, the strangers bought quite a few — including one for five-month-old Leo.
“‘We’re giving you this ticket and if you win, it’s for his education,'” Sharon remembered them saying.
“They were very, very specific about that,” she laughed.
As luck would have it, Leo’s ticket ended up being the winner. But due to a poorly timed stop at the washroom, Sharon had no idea until she returned to the seats.
“Matt, my husband, is just standing — jumping up and down and I’m like ‘What’s going on?’ So he told us that Leo’s ticket won, they had just announced it!”
That ticket was worth more than $700. They tried to give it back to the group above them.
“‘You guys take this money, enjoy it, it’s yours,'” Sharon said they told the group. “And they were adamant: ‘No no no.’
“I tried to stick money in their pockets and they wouldn’t take it. They wouldn’t take a dime!”
Eighteen years later, Leo is all grown up. He just got accepted to the University of British Columbia, to study kinesiology.
“I hope to be a chiropractor — that’s the main goal. Maybe physiotherapy,” he said.
As for those 50/50 winnings? They were set aside in a special Canadian savings account, where they’ve since grown to more than $1,000.
“Hopefully, if they’re watching it, we’re thankful for them. It’s cool to have it used towards my education,” Leo explained.
Over the years, the story of the 50/50 was often shared by the Bruces, a fond memory repeated time and time again.
Recently, they decided to try and find the kind strangers — but haven’t had any luck thus far.
“We just wanted to thank them for their extreme generosity,” Sharon said.
“We haven’t forgotten about them. We kept the money, we’re going to use it for his education. We held true to our word, put it to good use and he’s turned into a fine young man, too.”
The family only knows one name from that group – Lorraine Stevenson.
If you know her or any of her friends that were at the ballpark that afternoon, get in touch with reporter Sarah Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org to make the connection.