Suffolk family creates kindness challenge in memory of son

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022

After a sudden loss, a Suffolk family wants to create something positive for the community.

James and Shannon Tompkins unexpectedly lost their 24-year-old son, Tyler, on April 25. He was buried on May 4, and had requested that the song “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead be played at his funeral. Now his family has created the 24Ripples of Kindness Challenge in his memory.

Tyler graduated from King’s Fork High School in 2015 and was known for being a kind and selfless person. In high school, he was part of the International Baccalaureate Program and earned his Arrow of Light before reaching the rank of Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts Troop 1.


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As an adult, he became Master Mason at age 21 at Suffolk Masonic Lodge 30. He also participated in numerous soup kitchens, canned food drives, Suffolk Humane Society events and projects at Sentara Obici Hospital, Kids’ Zone and Goodwill. He volunteered as a counselor at Cub Scout day camp and church summer camp for his art teacher’s church, Hillcrest Baptist Church, at Camp Tukaway. He loved nature and spent his time hiking, kayaking, fishing and doing what he could to preserve the environment.

Tyler was known as someone who would truly give the shirt off his back, his mom said. She wanted to do something in his honor to keep his kindness going.

“He requested the song ‘Ripples’ by the Grateful Dead to play at his funeral,” said Shannon Tompkins. “That got me thinking about the ripples we make in each other’s lives. I feel like this will be a good tribute to him as he gave a lot of his time and money to help others.”

The 24Ripples of Kindness Challenge asks folks to do 24 random acts of kindness, one for each year of Tyler’s life. These can be big or small acts throughout the year to remember Tyler and continue his kindness.

Those who participate are encouraged to post on Facebook with the hashtag #24ripplesforTyler. On May 4, 2023, everyone will look back to see how far the ripples went.

“Mother Teresa said, ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone to create many ripples,’ ” said Tompkins. “That’s something Tyler definitely did, and I hope we can all continue.”