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NJ father launches ‘Kindness Challenge’ after son’s suicide

Posted at 7:33 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 22:06:24-05

HOLMDEL, N.J. — A grieving father created a Facebook group dedicated to random acts of kindness in the memory of his son who died by suicide.

Dylan Vassallo's father Dennis created a Facebook group called The Kindness Challenge to share stories of kindness and urge people to do good deeds without expecting anything in return because that's what 17-year-old Dylan's life was all about.

"He would have loved The Kindness Challenge, he would have been posting everyday," Julia Vassallo told PIX11. Her brother, Dylan, died by suicide in Aug. 2015.

It's an unusual way for a grieving family to deal with a suicide, but so far it appears to be helping the Vassallo family of Holmdel, New Jersey and so many others.

"Dylan was the most community-based person I have ever known," his younger sister, Julia said. This Red Bank Catholic High School senior listed among her brother's many activities: the Boy Scouts, an altar boy, Helping in Honduras and working with special needs children.

More than 64,000 people have signed up for the kindness challenge in just its first three weeks of existence.

In the last few hours, Megan posted about entertaining a noisy toddler in a doctors waiting room while the mother tended to another sick child. Nadine posted about a stranger donating a kidney to save her 5-year-old daughter's life and Mayra about being so grateful for this fur baby, her words to describe her dog who helps her cope with her PTSD.

These random posts from strangers also help the Vassallo family.

"It's almost become a daily thing every day in our family," Julia said about her family reading through the posts. "We are getting members from all over the world. I'm astounded."

More than 25 administrators make sure members of the Kindness Challenge just post positive stories, no politics, no negativity, and no advertisers.

The Kindness Challenge Facebook Group is still open and growing and the Vassallo family has opened a second group, The Kindness Challenge Prayer Group. The family says feel free to join either or both and spread a little kindness.