This year was the first time the Carr family has had to celebrate Christmas without 5-year-old Chad Carr, who died Nov. 23 after a yearlong battle with an inoperable brain tumor.
The family's pain was made a little easier to cope with after a casual conversation in an elevator 1,300 miles from home, and the kindness of a stranger who happened to be an Ohio State fan.
Tammi Carr, Chad's mother, explained in a Facebook post that the family was gearing up to leave from a family vacation in the Bahamas and a man in an elevator happened to notice her sons' "Chad Tough" shirts.
The man joked about standing next to Michigan fans and said "Go Bucks" before striking up a conversation with Tammi and finding out Chad was her son.
"He offered his condolences and then we went our separate ways at breakfast," she said in the Facebook post.
"As we were leaving the restaurant after breakfast, the man and his wife came up to us and gave us hugs saying how much they love what we are doing in Chad's name. Then they handed us a check. We didn't open it until we got up to the room, but they had handed us a check for $1000 for the ChadTough foundation."
The family started the Chad Tough Foundation earlier this year to help fund research for DIPG, the rare form of pediatric cancer that Chad suffered from and Tammi says is severely underfunded. At the time of Chad's death, there were two foundations set up in Chad's name and combined the family had raised nearly $500,000 toward fighting against pediatric cancers.
"What a way to end this amazing trip -- being reminded of the goodness in people and the power of Chad to unite," Tammi wrote.
"We never got their names, but the check is from the Tuckerman Home Group in Columbus Ohio so I'm guessing their owners are pretty great people. Thank you 'Elevator Bucks' for being ChadTough!"
This weekend the foundation also launched its new Chad Tough Champion program, where people sign up and pledge a commitment to spread the foundation's mission through their own personal networks.
The group launched Saturday, Dec. 26 at 5 p.m., and in less than 48 hours has more than 1,700 sign ups through chadtough.org/champions and more than 1,000 members on Facebook.
People who sign up provide their name, email address, and mailing address, and receive an exclusive wristband and access to a Chad Tough Champions Facebook community.
"We are loving reading all of the heartfelt comments from everyone," Tammi Carr wrote to the members Monday morning. "(We have) 1000 members in less than 2 days. Pretty amazing. Thank you all for your passion and commitment to our mission. Forever ChadTough!!!"