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Why this mom tipped $1,000 to honor her late son

The random act of kindness had far-reaching effects.

On what would have been her son Nash’s 9th birthday, Michelle Schupbach gave one waitress the tip of a lifetime. 

It was January 9, and Traci Kaule was working a double at a Traverse City, Michigan Chili’s. It was a slow night, and just she and the bartender were the only staff left on duty. 

“We connected right away,” Kaule says of meeting the Schupbach family. 

Michelle Schupbach felt the same way. So did her 7-year-old son, Crue, who told his mom, “we need to Nash her.” 

Baby Nash died suddenly from positional asphyxia at 5 months old.
Baby Nash died suddenly from positional asphyxia at 5 months old.Courtesy Michelle Schupbac

“Nashing,” as the family calls it, are the random acts of kindness performed on the 9th of every month. It started on the day Nash would have been six months old. Nash died suddenly from positional asphyxia when he was 5 months old at his daycare, his mother tells

When her sister-in-law first brought up the idea to honor Nash through random acts of kindness on what would have been his 6-month birthday, Schupbach says she could barely get out of bed. But when she started seeing people from all over the world sharing how they were spreading joy in Nash’s honor, she was moved. 

“People were talking about my baby and honoring him with kindness, I wanted to be a part of it,” she says. 

From surprising people with flowers at red lights to giving big tips to pizza delivery men, the Schupbachs are able to keep Nash alive in some way, his mom says. 

“As a mom, you love talking about your kid, love to brag about them. This is an outlet to do that,” she says. 

So when the family crossed paths with Kaule at Chili’s, Schupbach said she felt Nash had brought them together. 

“She was so sweet, playing with Mack (Schupbach’s 6-month-old son) and talking to Crue,” Schupbach says. “Traci had no idea we were going to give her the money; it wasn’t like she was doing anything that she wouldn’t have done anyway, she was just being herself.” 

Kaule said it was the biggest tip she ever got. “As she was telling me her story I was just in awe,” she tells “I was so in shock. I wasn’t actually sure how to receive it, I’m more of a giver,” she says. 

Which explains perfectly what Kaule did next. She gave some of the money to waitstaff having a slow night at another restaurant. Next up — a friend recently widowed with four kids will be getting a helping hand from the tip the Schupbachs gave her — spreading Nash’s legacy even farther. 

Nash Schupbach, who would have been 9 years old this year, has inspired acts of kindness thanks to his family's commitment to "Nashing."
Nash Schupbach, who would have been 9 years old this year, has inspired acts of kindness thanks to his family's commitment to "Nashing."Courtesy Michelle Schupbac

And while Schupbach has loved seeing the video of the generous tip go viral, her favorite story of Nash’s impact was one no one had a camera to capture. 

It came to her via private message, she says. 

“This person’s sister was dying of cancer and took a sudden turn for the worse. They needed to get a flight right away and were at the airport hoping for a bereavement fare but couldn’t get one. They didn’t have enough money for the flight. A person at the airport paid for their ticket in Nash’s honor,” Schupbach said. “The message read, ‘thanks to your baby I was able to be with my sister when she passed.’” 

As Nash’s memory lives on through acts of kindness, Schupbach says it’s those acts that have kept her going despite the overwhelming grief of losing her son. 

“I would not have gotten out of bed that day (when Nash would have been 6 months old) if it hadn’t been for other people’s support and them doing these acts of kindness,” she says. “I wouldn’t have been able to tip Traci without the help of others. I like to think that Nash’s legacy became what it is because of that amazing smile of his, but truly, Nash’s legacy became what it is because of other people’s kindness. His smile helped.”