The Story of How Fighting For Kindness Made a Real Change
Kellsey’s little sister was on the heart transplant list, and in the hospital. Her appetite was gone, and each day, she struggled to eat with the symptoms that her failing heart plagued her with. Each day was more difficult than the last, a vicious cycle of malnutrition and exhaustion that kept her from regaining her strength.
She was starting to despair.
In March of 2019, we got a message on Instagram. It was sent by Kellsey, asking about the nutrition in our ramen. She explained the situation at hand-- Her sister, Kai, needed nutrition, and wasn’t eating much. She’d seen our ad, and a light lit up in her eyes. Her little sister loved ramen-- it was one of the only things she’d always eat, and it was something they absolutely forbade her from eating in the hospital.
When she saw our ramen, she immediately sent us a message, hoping that this would be something that her would not only enjoy, but be able to nourish her and help her stay strong. There was just one catch.
Her doctors were very specific about nutritional requirements. After all, heart failure is a tricky thing-- Too much potassium here, too little sodium there, and even everyday foods could cause significant medical problems.
This was something we’d never encountered before. We’d really just only started selling to the public and running ads-- Back then, it was just the second month we were selling on our website. Our customers and kickstarter backers were all adults, and all generally nutritionally savvy, and we hadn’t had to answer many questions about nutrition then.
The moment we saw the message, we desperately wanted to help. But we’re not doctors, and definitely not pediatricians specializing in heart health. The most we could do at that time was to respond and send over the nutritional information so that Kellsey could pass it on to the doctors.
We thought it might take some time to review, and we started organizing nutrition files and ingredient lists, preparing to answer more questions from the doctors...
On 8:43PM of that very same day, Kai’s doctors approved it, with the stipulation that they’d need to monitor her Vitamin K levels a bit more closely. We excitedly got a box together and shipped it out, along with T-shirts and other goodies for both sisters.
She loved it. It’s all she’d been asking for, and to be able to eat her favorite food again meant so much to her.
We heard a while later that though Kai hadn’t gotten the transplant yet, she’d been able to recover enough to leave the hospital after a year, and was still eating a pack about every other day. I want to stress that it was not our ramen that allowed her recovery-- It was her own strength, her family’s unwavering support, and her amazing medical team that helped her. We were just happy to be a small little part of her journey, allowing her to enjoy her favorite food again while being good to her body.
But her story doesn’t end there.
Earlier this year in June of 2023, we posted about Pride Month. There was the usual support, but there was a torrent of nasty messages coming our way too, more than we’d ever gotten before-- Our post had somehow caught in the algorithm in the worst way, being delivered to people who were constantly engaging with hate and vitriol on posts supporting Pride Month. It was exhausting to read, day in and day out, between all the comments and messages and emails.
We were worn down, standing for the things we believed in, berated and attacked at every turn. We’d pushed back, standing our ground, fighting for the things we believed were right, as we always have, and always will. But it doesn’t make us invincible. It doesn’t make us able to shrug off wave after wave of hate without pain.
We made another post in response, in defiance, and drew more ire for it.
Then, Kellsey posted this:
Sometimes, something happens that you know you’ll remember forever. It hits you with a force so powerful, so impactful that you can do nothing but sit there, stunned, feeling nothing but your own heartbeat. It reaches out, pulls you out of darkness and reminds you of all the things that make the world such a beautiful, vivid place, and becomes a core memory that you’ll never, ever forget.
Remember to be kind, and kindness will return to you.
Because that day, harried and worn, we read these beautiful words from Kellsey, and we cried. Our tears were of happiness, of catharsis, of release of the frustrations and adversity we’d been facing. We’re just a small band of noodlemakers, after all. We’d never imagined that our noodles would be able to do so much, for so many people.
Because when we read Kellsey’s post, it wasn’t just her story, or her sister’s that we remember. It was all the stories we’d encountered over the years. All the laughter, all the sadness, all the chaos, all the joy. From Kellsey’s sister to the widow who sent us her late husband’s ramen book, we’ve heard so many stories, experienced so many circumstances that it’s hard to believe that all of this came from a silly little dream to make ramen.
Maybe another unprecedented global event hits next year. Maybe we won’t survive that one this time, and maybe I have to face the doors of our facility one last time, look at all the years and memories we built, and shut the doors forever.
But I like to think that whatever happens, we’ve made a difference in our time here. I like to think that the years we’ve been around have made some people’s lives better, and that in the end, all this stress, pain, and struggle was worth it.
At least, that’s what I hope. And that’s why I started a while ago to sign off my emails like this.
Remember to be kind, and savor life’s little victories.
-Tim, CEO/Founder Vite Kitchens