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Kindness is Contagious: Fargo family goes above the norm to extend kindness

Don "Lars" Larson, North Dakota State University's head men's track and field coach, as seen June 27, 2012. Forum file photo1 / 2
Nicole Phillips, Kindness is Contagious columnist.2 / 2

My kids had a few special baby sitters when they were little, and Desiree Larson was one of them. We’ve moved away and the kids have gotten older, so it’s been a while since we’ve been in touch.

I got a message from Desiree recently and I wasn’t surprised to find that the Larson family is still spreading kindness. She sent me this story about her husband.

“Anyone who knows Don ‘Lars’ Larson, the track coach at North Dakota State University, knows he is constantly helping anyone who needs a hand on campus. From his own athletes, to random students having a problem, to alumni who show up wanting to see the facilities, Lars is always eager to help people out.

"Lars’ dad, Arnie, raised him with the motto, ‘Do something nice for a stranger.’ After a recent track meet at Nebraska, we decided to run down to Kansas City to see our daughter and grandson. We got stuck down there (luckily) for a few extra days as travel conditions back to Fargo were horrible.

"We finally had an open window of better weather and were heading home when we stopped outside of Omaha to get gas. Lars saw a woman pull into the convenience store with a flat rear tire. She ran in, got a few items and proceeded to try to back out

"Lars pulled up behind her, got out and explained to her how dangerous it was for her to drive on that tire. In broken English, she told him she had no one she could call to help her. Lars proceeded to jack up her car and get out her spare tire, which he promptly took across the street to fill with air."

"When it’s below zero, nothing works well. The lug nuts came off eventually but the rim was frozen to the tire. After making a few calls for advice, he told the young lady to go inside the convenience store to get warm and that he was heading to a hardware store to buy some penetrating oil to remedy the situation.

"It took well over an hour to get the rim off. Finally, it came free and he put the spare on her car. The woman hugged him and even came over to hug me — she was so grateful we would help a complete stranger in this bitterly cold weather. When he finally got back into our car, my helpful husband simply said to me, 'My dad would have been proud.'"

I know how that woman in the car must have felt. I haven’t had Lars rescue me from a flat tire, but I have had Desiree rescue my family from frozen dinners. Desiree knows I’m not a very proficient cook, so during the entire time she baby-sat for my kids, she kept my refrigerator stocked with casseroles. It sounds like both Desiree and Lars are compelled to go above and beyond the call of duty to extend kindness.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her three children and her husband, Ohio University Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.