CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Tuesday marks a year since a Williamson County 17-year-old was killed in a car crash, and to mark the solemn anniversary, his friends and family are continuing his legacy by spreading love and positivity.
Myles Hutcheson always had a kind, encouraging word for the people in his life, and now those people are passing on his message through the #LLMChallenge, meaning “Love Like Myles.”
The idea came from teenagers at Northpoint Church, where Myles was an active member.
“Especially for a lot of our students, this is one of the hardest things they’ve ever gone through,” said Jordan Geist, Northpoint’s student ministry director. “We’ve just seen over and over again that people want to do something, they want to help, they want to be a part, they want to make a positive impact.”
How it works
The idea for the #LLMChallenge is similar to the viral ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and money for research into the neurodegenerative disease ALS.
To participate, hand-write two “authentically encouraging” notes to people in your life, recognizing something special about each person.
Take a photo of the note and/or the people receiving the notes and post the photos to social media. Tag the people, use the hashtag #LLMChallenge, and include the caption at the bottom of this website.
The people who are tagged are now challenged to do the same.
“So often, we’re able to see the great things or the potential in somebody else before they see it in themselves,” Geist said. The challenge aims to get people “to pause and say, like, ‘Do you know how funny you are?’ ‘Do you know how talented you are?’ ‘Do you know how much I appreciate when you recognize me or remember me?'”
“I was really excited to hear the plans that they had,” said Maryleigh Hutcheson, Myles’ mom.
To say the last year has been difficult for her is an understatement. But despite the challenges of moving forward through her grief, Hutcheson finds a lot of love he left behind.
“There’s still so much joy and gratitude that I was the lucky person that got to be his mom,” she said. “And every single moment with him was an absolute blessing.”
Myles died in a car crash on Brushy Creek Road on Dec. 3, 2018. He was on his way to class at Vista Ridge High School when his car went off the road. A talented athlete and better friend, his community rallied in the weeks and months that followed.
Friends started looking for opportunities to “live like Myles,” helping people the way the teenager did so consistently.
Myles’ dedication, they say, goes back to his childhood. Diagnosed with a rare blood disease, he received a transfusion from an anonymous donor that saved his life.
“It was then that he vowed to treat every person he ever met like they were the one who had given blood,” Geist explained, “because maybe they were.”
That went beyond volunteering with the Leander Special Olympics program, which he did. It went beyond trying to give his MVP basketball trophy to someone on the team he thought was more deserving, which he did. It went beyond helping people he didn’t know through his church group, which he did.
“We’d be walking through the hallway and every single person, I’d be like, ‘How do you know them?’ He’d just be like, ‘Oh, I met them at this thing,” said Grant Moyer, one of Myles’ closest friends. “He just remembered every single person’s name.”
Moyer is part of the group at Northpoint that came up with the #LLMChallenge. He and the other teenagers there wanted to encourage people to support one another.
“We could just take one day out of the year and just do something that he would do every day,” he said.
‘It only takes a moment to change this world’
Maryleigh Hutcheson is encouraged that teens and young adults are finding healthy ways to deal with their grief over the loss of Myles instead of turning to negative, self-destructive means.
While he might be a little embarrassed that his name was attached to the challenge instead of someone he’d consider more deserving, she said, “I think he would be absolutely excited and elated that people are trying to help [and] love others.”
She hopes the message of the #LLMChallenge sinks in with everyone taking part in it so they continue to encourage each other and recognize the value each person has.
Myles understood the power of a kind word, and she wants others to understand it, too.
“It only takes a moment to change this world,” she said. “You can choose to change it for the better, or you can choose to have a negative impact.”