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This story is part of the My Unsung Hero series from the Hidden Brain team about people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else.


One evening a few months ago, NPR's own Mary Louise Kelly was walking home from her favorite bookstore in Washington, D.C.

She had purchased three books, and couldn't wait to get home and crack one open in front of a roaring fire.

"I read so much for work that I just love the rare pleasure of getting to read something that is what I want to read," she said.

But then she reached into her pocket and realized her wallet was gone.

"I look around and think, 'Oh, unpronounceable word that I shouldn't say on air.'"

So she started to retrace her steps.

"I'm down on my hands and knees, looking in the gutters around the streets. I go back and forth and back and forth. My wallet is nowhere."

She went back to the bookstore, but nobody had turned it in. Kelly trudged home and was about to cancel her credit cards when an email appeared. It was from a man named Adam, who said he had found her wallet, right where she had been searching on the sidewalk. He had recognized her name because he listens to NPR.

Through a friend of a friend, Adam found a way to reach her and gave Kelly his phone number and home address. Kelly had an Uber sent to his house and 20 minutes later, a small brown paper bag arrived on her front steps.

"And the loveliest detail, as I'm digging the wallet out of the bag, I realized at the bottom, Adam has dropped a Cadbury caramel egg, which he could not have possibly known is my absolute favorite," she said.

Kelly said the kindness of Adam's gesture has stayed with her.

"There are so many stories of villainy in the world, of badness, of greediness and corruption and evil, that to come across the most simple of stories, of kind people, good people willing to go out of their way and do a nice turn for a stranger – it feels worth sharing," she said.

"There are good people in this world. There are kind people in this world ready to go out of their way to help a stranger. And I am grateful to these strangers for reminding me of that. And I will be looking for chances to pay it forward."


My Unsung Hero is also a podcast — new episodes are released every Tuesday and Thursday. To share the story of your unsung hero with the Hidden Brain team, record a voice memo on your phone and send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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