BOSTON (CBS) – As the world turns, the worst examples of behavior seem to be on constant display.  From the brutal attacks on his own people by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to the looting thugs rampaging across Britain to child predators assaulting our young—-all reports point to these being seriously troubled times.  Mass media immediately transmitting this ugliness to our phones, laptops and flat screens in the process of informing us is also chipping away at morale.  With the constant barrage of negativity, it’s no wonder so many have become desensitized to cruelty and violence.  For those seeking asylum, there are not many escape routes with fewer and fewer places to hide.  So every now and then when a story pokes through like a welcome sunbeam, I jump at the chance to comment.  This week, it’s faith restoring tale.

Perhaps you heard about the celebrity hockey game in Minnesota recently in which 11-year-old Nick Smith got the chance of a lifetime to win a $50,000 jackpot after purchasing a $10 charity raffle ticket.

All he had to do was take an exceedingly luck slap shot and fire a puck from center ice 89 feet into a tiny cutout (a tad bigger than the width of the puck).  Easier said than done but in true Hollywood style the kid did it.  All that was missing was the legendary Bob Wilson of Bruins radio fame calling the play.  “Nick Smith sets, he shoots, he scores!  There are 50,000 reasons to call this a little boy’s miracle on ice!”

The win means a paid up first year of college, a vacation for the family, the video gaming system of any teenager’s choice and more.  All well and profitable except for one little detail.  On Thursday night, Nick Smith’s name was drawn in a raffle, entitling him to take the shot.   But when the time came for the Minnesota boy to pick up his stick and shoot, he was outside the building, so his brother Nate Smith did the brotherly thing and stepped in so a place in line wouldn’t be lost.  Nate Smith in the case would be Nick’s hard to tell under any circumstances identical twin brother.  Nick’s name was on the ticket; Nate ended up doing the impossible, launching the puck the tiny slot so many feet away.  Both boys went home thinking that they had parlayed a winning ticket into a fortune.

That night, their dad talked with them about the circumstances surrounding the win.  Since the boys pulled a switch and didn’t play by the rules, he counseled them on the consequences of bending regulations along with the benefits of being honest.  It was decided among the family that they would decline the prize.

As of this writing, the insurance company sponsoring the contest has not decided what course to take.  Award the money to the family for their honesty?  Return to the contest rulebook and do a makeover?  I leave that to the powers that be holding the purse.

The mere fact that this story made international news makes me smile.  When someone does the right thing nowadays, some in the media appear stunned.  A story emerges from Middle America without blood, bombings, curse words or natural disasters in the lead and folks want to know more.  Nothing like a little morality tale to remind us of a parent’s love and guidance and a child’s ability to learn a life lesson.

I hope the twins get to keep a part of the winnings if not the entire jackpot.  With a dad like theirs and a value system like the one they have in place, it suggests a wise investment.  And if they don’t get a dime, they will still have realized a nice gain.  As will we all.


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