Sara’s Story

Recently, I started following someone really inspirational on Instagram: @SaraSmilesJoyRides. She is a master at enacting and encouraging random acts of kindness, and I love following how she is changing the world, one gesture at a time. I’m honored that she agreed to guest post for us today. Check out her story below.

Sara’s Story

What you do matters. It’s something we all need to hear, sometimes even on our best days. So, this year, I made a New Year’s resolution that I intended to keep: I would take weekly “joy rides”. (Not to be confused with a speedy journey, but instead, a ride to bring joy via sweet treats, a gift card or any creative gesture that affirms worth.)

“Joy rides” are a grassroots effort to honor people…just because. They’re spontaneous, authentic gestures, that anyone can execute – all you need is a willing heart, some creativity and hopefully a cell phone to capture the moment.

SaraSmilesJoyRidesTo date, I’ve taken 16 “joy rides”, everywhere from a souvenir shop on the busiest end of tourist Orlando, through a toll booth and inside an emergency room. I firmly believe that birthdays and funerals aren’t the only time that people in my corner of the world should be recognized.

One of my favorite “joy rides” unfolded at a Wawa near The Walt Disney World Resort. I had purchased a gift card to give to someone, and while perusing the people at the pumps, my eyes fell on a mother with several young children playing in the car. I approached her, and shared my usual encouragement, and before I could even finish, her eyes welled up with tears. “You don’t know the day I’ve had,” she shared, “This means so much.” This woman I’ll probably never see again moved me to tears too.



My list for future “joy rides” is growing every day, and little by little, friends and acquaintances are joining in, and adding “joy riders” to the fold. It’s humbling to see how little things can make a big difference! Here’s to changing the world, one “joy ride” at a time.

About Sara

Hailing from Northeast Ohio, Sara is a quirky bundle of sunshine who’s sure to spark a smile. She loves Converse tennis shoes, baby animals, musical moments and any avenue to brighten someone’s day. By day, she’s a writer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Her little yellow rocket ship (a FIAT) serves as the perfect joy mobile.


Follow @SaraSmilesJoyRides on Instagram and @TakeAJoyRide on Twitter for the latest “joy ride” updates, or add her blog,, to your quick links. (Photography credit: Katelynn Carlson Photography)

thanks for reading

I hope you enjoyed Sara’s story as much as I did…what a great movement. Have you ever been part of a “joy ride”?  If so, we’d love to hear your story, and you can also follow Sara (and Family Service Club) on Instagram for ideas and inspiration. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a Family Service Club of your own. Thanks for reading, and let’s go love others on purpose.

About Kellie Van Atta

Kellie Van Atta is a wife, a mom of two, and a teacher of English. She lives in Southern California and is passionately dedicated to teaching her kids to love others.

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