Unexpected Surprises

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I suppose that all surprises are unexpected, but some are even more unexpected than others. Two weeks ago, we participated in the final round of the Grow America Springboard Competition. While we didn’t win any money, we gained much through the experience. (To read more about that, you can see this post.)

After we left that day, we reviewed our other options for raising money and started making plans. Then came an unexpected surprise. Two days after the competition I received an interesting email. It reminded me of half a dozen scams where they tell you that you have won some great prize and all you need to do is share every piece of your personal and financial information in order to get it. What I could see of the email without opening it was, “Dear Chris & Katie Chapman, One of your friends wants to give you a financial…” I thought, “Yeah, sure!” Then I realized it was my business email, where very little garbage email ends up (knock on wood). I almost deleted it as Spam, but then decided, “Eh, it can’t hurt to at least read the thing.” So I clicked it open.

What I found was a message from an organization named Giving Anonymously. It said that some friend wanted to give us an anonymous gift and all we needed to do was reply and confirm that we would accept the gift. Again, I thought to myself, “Yeah, right!” and almost deleted it. Fortunately, I resisted the impulse. Instead, I did a Google search for Giving Anonymously and found some amazing things. Most amazing to me is that they really are for real and they really do what their name suggests. They serve as the middle-man between an anonymous giver and the person receiving the gift.


Needless to say, we accepted the gift. Even though we had no idea how much would be coming, we were thrilled to know that someone out there wanted to support what we are trying to accomplish. We were naturally curious about who our mysterious benefactor was, why they were sending us money, and how much they were giving, so we went through the list of everyone we knew or talked to, but nothing really stuck out. The timing made us wonder if it was someone we had met at the competition, but really we had no idea. When the mail finally came, Chris was naturally in a meeting. It took all of my will power to wait for him to open it with me, but I am glad I did. When we opened the envelope and saw how generous our benefactor had been, I was honestly in a bit of shock. Now, the check was not for $10 billion or something obscene, but it was for far more than I ever imagined someone would be willing to give, without “strings attached.” Even more than that, the amount was almost perfectly what we needed in order for us to continue driving full steam ahead right now. The amazing connection between our need and their gift felt like perfect serendipity—my miracle.

We were grateful for the financial support, but the note that came attached to the check is at least as valuable to us. I would like to share some of it with you:

Dear Chapmans: We were impressed with Pentandra Research Solutions, Inc’s Geungle, a most viable product with great potential to revolutionize the way we do Family History research. We noted your table at Grow America…We also noted your web site. We were disappointed that the Grow America judges did not fully understand, nor appreciate your potential in this regard. Accordingly, we make this anonymous contribution to your successful implementation of this most needed product. We are confident with your enthusiasm and hard work, and working together that you will be successful.


Giving Anonymously also provides a way for the gift recipients to record a thank you message for the giver. I was afraid that I would lose all ability to talk through my tears of gratitude as I left my meager message. It was a moment when words could not have possibly conveyed the full impact of the experience or hold a candle to how vibrant my emotions of gratitude and awe felt inside of me. In part, that is why I decided to write this post—I wanted to make sure that whoever did this for us, knows how truly and fully grateful we are. We are grateful for the financial support and perhaps even more grateful for the mental support that encourages us to keep pushing forward.

So, if you are out there, whoever you are, please accept my gratitude and thanks.