Social media movement inspired by Michigan girl with autism reminds people to 'hold on to kindness'

Stranger heard Lillie and her mother talking about kindness at airport

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MIDLAND, Mich. – The social media saying #holdontokindness is doing more than going viral, it’s going straight to the hearts of thousands of people.

On Wednesday, Nicole Webster was trying to get off a crowded flight in Detroit with her 9-year-old daughter, Lillie.

Nicole has brain cancer. Lillie has autism and is living with a congenital genetic disorder called 1p36 deletion syndrome.

Nicole said her cancer treatments are exhausting, and Lillie has her good moments and challenging moments.

Getting off the flight, Lillie was clutching her stuffed bear named Kindness. Nicole, knowing exactly how to keep her little girl calm in a chaotic situation, kept reminding Lillie to “hold on to Kindness.”

She didn’t know that a teacher was watching her and Lillie.

The teacher made this Facebook post about what she saw and so far it has been shared more than 186,000 times.

Nicole said she was given just months to live but with the help of the University of Michigan Medical Center, she is fighting the cancer and much of the tumor has been removed, and Lillie is undergoing leg surgery to help her walk.

Nicole said sometimes she doesn’t feel like she’s succeeding as a mother, but when she didn’t know others were watching, she became a mother who, with her little girl, is reshaping how the rest of us deal with each other and what is happening in our lives.

Next time you feel frustrated, think of what Nicole and Lillie are going through and remember to "hold on to kindness."

About the Author:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.