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Flat tire leads to random act of kindness

Nicole Rice drove to work Monday morning like most days, heading to her teaching job at Schoolcraft Learning Community.

During the drive, though, one of her tires went flat.

A stranger soon pulled over to help, going above and beyond simply lending a helping hand.

"I feel like in this town if you break down, somebody will stop to help," said Rice, who has taught at the K-8 charter school located at Concordia Language Village. "But I've never had someone go out of their way like this to help."

The man, whom Rice said was a retired teacher who recently injured his wrist, wasn't able to get the flat tire off. She doesn't recall the man's name, but he gave her a ride to her classroom northwest of Bemidji.

A few hours later, Rice said the man returned to Schoolcraft Learning Community, wondering if she'd be willing to lend him the keys so he could bring the car to her.

It turns out he recruited a brother-in-law to help with the flat tire and wanted to bring the vehicle to her.

"I didn't think he was going to steal my car," she said. "I felt he really wanted to help."

The next time Rice saw the man, he arrived back at the school with the car and the brother-in-law who helped.

The man told Rice that the car was low on gas and he filled it up for her. And when she offered to pay, he refused to take money or give an address in which she could send a thank you.

"He said, 'Nope, Merry Christmas,'" Rice said Wednesday.

Mark Lindy, owner of Dick's Northside, said the stranger is a customer at the station, and the man helping him is the customer's brother-in-law.

"That's just the way they are," Lindy said.

When they arrived with the flat tire and Lindy found out what they were up to, the station owner decided to donate a used tire to the cause.

"These fellows took time out of their busy day and I figured I could do the same," Lindy said. "They really did the hard part. We try to help people out. That's what we should do."

Since the random act of kindness, Rice has told family, friends and her students - asking them to spread the word.

"I just wanted people to know about this story," Rice said. "I was shocked and grateful for somebody I had never met.

"Sometimes people do kind things. We hear so many stories about terrible and sad things."

And by telling people she knows, Rice hopes to let the man know she's grateful and the impact of his kindness.

"I just think we can all do things like this," she said. "I think it's a reminder of all the things I can do. Now I have to pay this forward."

Steve Wagner

Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.

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