When Jamie-Lynne Knighten went to pay her $200 tab at a Trader Joe's in Oceanside, California, she found that she had left her debit card at home. Her 5-month-old baby was fussing and she frantically tried to call her bank as the line behind her got longer and longer.
Before Knighten even reached her phone, Matthew Jackson, 28, came to the rescue when he insisted on covering the cost. Little did she know, this random act of kindness would be one of the last things Jackson would do in his lifetime.
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"It just felt like this huge hug, this great big bear hug," said Knighten on the warmth she felt from Jackson.
Although Jackson insisted that he wanted nothing in return from the married mother of two, Knighten took Jackson's name and place of work, determined to somehow repay the kindness he had shown to her and her family.
A little more than a week later, Knighten took initiative and called Jackson's boss at LA fitness to express how kind he had been to her and potentially bring him a gift. When his boss began crying, it was clear that something was wrong.
Less than 24 hours after Jackson paid for Knighten's bill, he was killed in a car crash.
— Candice Nguyen (@CandiceNguyenTV) November 25, 2015
%shareLinks-quote="I thought for sure I would get the chance to see him again, give him a hug and thank him at least once more in person. Now I won't get that chance, but more importantly no one else will get the chance to meet him. And that breaks my heart." type="quote" author="Jamie-Lynne Knighten" authordesc="" isquoteoftheday="false"%
Knighten shared her heartbroken response on Facebook. To her surprise, the man's inspiring story touched people all over the world.
"People saying they were going to pay it forward in Scotland, in Wisconsin, in Australia," said Knighten of the support she received. "Overwhelming. It was overwhelming."
While Knighten was shocked at the level of kindness displayed by the late 28-year-old, Jackson's mother was not surprised at all, saying generosity was one of the characteristics that defined her son.
%shareLinks-quote="I knew my boy was like this. He loved to be kind. He was just a really special kid. So cute, so intelligent, so talented, an accomplished musician. You wonder why these things happen." type="quote" author="LeeAnn Krymow" authordesc="" isquoteoftheday="false"%
Krymow went on to tell an inspiring anecdote about Jackson's innate kindness, which a Los Angeles Times article summarized beautifully:
She remembers one day under a sweltering desert sun -- Jackson grew up in Phoenix -- when mother and son stopped to get some cold bottled water. At a stop light a block later, he suddenly jumped out of the car, ran over to a panhandler and handed his unopened bottle to the stranger.
Knighten, since finding out about Jackson's untimely death, has begun to spread what she refers to as 'Matthew's legacy,' in order to inspire people all over the world to pay it forward the way Matthew Jackson did.
"There has got to be some good to come of this," said Krymow on Matthew's legacy. "He would be happy to know that other people are learning from his example."
If that wasn't enough inspiration for you, watch how this father and daughter spread the love:
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