Michael Ray, of Louisville, who used to be struggling to find his purpose, is using hard times to lift up others.
“I’m really trying to change attitudes and behaviors by spreading love through smiling it’s the simplicity of a smile, it doesn’t cost anything,” Ray told WLKY.
Years ago, Ray became a proud father of two twin boys. But he lost one of them for an undetected blood clot when the boy was just three months old. Ray spent the next few years grieving and struggling to find his purpose.
Ray has a daughter, Maddie. She has Down syndrome, autism, and is nonverbal. Smile is the only way they can communicate. Maddie’s beautiful smile tells Ray everything he needs to know. It was always a beacon of hope. It never failed to cheer him up. Ray has never doubted that Maddie loves him even.
“I kind of turned around for years and was like do you love daddy, hey do you love me?” he told WHAS11. “And she would just smile, and that’s how I knew.”
He finally found his purpose. It started on one day in 2018 when an uplifting exchange with a friendly Wendy’s employee turned his day around and Smile Project Louisville inspired by his 20-year-old daughter Maddie began.
“Be the reason someone smiles today” is the project’s mission. Through the project, he’s able to help uplift others who are going through a hardship.
Ray would be traveling around Louisville with Maddie to brighten others’ days with gifts and small acts of kindness. The project now has been turned into an official nonprofit organization.