A BC Transit employee has been named the recipient of the Highland Has Heart award in recognition of his kindness, compassion, and joy spread in the Comox Valley.
JD Ludlow is the “The Flowerman,” and he’s been bringing smiles to Comox Valley since he moved there in 2019.
Usually, it’s Ludlow who makes others smile, but on March 1 the script was flipped when students from Highland Secondary School awarded him the Highland Has Heart award.
“Of all the kind gestures I’ve experienced over the last few years, this by far has had the most impact,” said Ludlow. “To have children and a high school acknowledge what I’ve done is amazing.”
Whether it’s shuttling around volunteers in a borrowed city bus to help shovel out the community, or handing out roses during a snow storm — what most call acts of kindness, Ludlow calls “shenanigans,” and that’s what’s earned him the reputation as a vibrant source of positivity in the community.
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According to his blog, it all started on March 5, 2017, when he coined the occasion as “Lei Day.” After coming out on the other side of a terrible depression, he decided he would dedicate the day to celebrating mental wellness. Ludlow took to handing out flower garlands to his riders, thus earning him the nickname.
That soon turned into “Kinder Pathfinder Day,” after a moment of reconciliation and another rider helped him re-discover the meaning behind his movement.
“Honestly, there was always an internal struggle within about the Hawaiian Lei worn the last few years,” Ludlow writes on his blog. “I don’t live in Hawaii, don’t say Aloha, but live on a very beautiful island in its own right.”
He adds it all came together when a customer pointed to his colourful lei one gloomy day and asked, “Is that your Pathfinder?”
Since then, the day’s name has changed but the message behind the flowers remains the same: “It lights my path to connect with others and spread joy and happiness.”