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L.I. Couple Who Lost Young Son Works To Pay Generosity Forward

Richie Specht

Richie Specht drowned at the age of 22 months, but his parents experienced such generosity that they are now looking to pay it forward with a new foundation. (Credit: CBS 2)

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SOUND BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Turning bad into good is the mission of a Long Island couple who suffered tragedy just days before Superstorm Sandy.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday, Richie Specht — the youngest child of Richard and Samantha Specht – drowned just before Sandy hit.

As adults were getting ready for the storm, 22-month-old Richie wandered into his Sound Beach backyard pond and drowned. His devastated parents couldn’t bear the sight of their pond after the tragedy, and a landscaper filled it in planting grass and shrubs, for free.

“(The landscaper) wouldn’t take a dime from me; wouldn’t take anything,” Richard Specht said, “and I was just overwhelmed by the generosity.”

“Nobody would let us do anything to repay them back, so we figured, well, if you’re not going to accept us, then we’re going to do something for somebody else,” Sam Specht said.

The Spechts are now paying it forward with their own super deeds. Their little boy’s nickname was “Rees” for his initials, and ReesSpecht Life is now a foundation, and a movement.

“We made these cards to pass along for people to do random acts of kindness in his name,” Richard Specht said.

“It’s healing, it exciting, and it gives you a good feeling,” Sam Specht added.

On Tuesday, the Spechts paid for a stranger’s lunch at a local pizza shop. The recipient was handed the card with a single request — make the world a little better with a random act of kindness.

“I’ll use the money that I was going to spend here to do something nice for somebody,” the man said.

“We need more kindness around here, and hopefully it will just keep continuing,” added a woman who worked at the pizza shop.

The Spechts said that is just the point.

“It’s every parent’s nightmare to lose a child. The only way to counter this is with an equally strong positive,” Richard Specht said.

More than 7,000 of the cards have been given out – proving, according to the Spechts, that good can come from bad. They said they hope to start a chain reaction of civility, kindness and respect.

The Spechts said their little boy’s life was brief, but they hope to make his legacy eternal.

The Spechts are both teachers. They said they hope the foundation helps teach their students the value of good deeds.

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