What does it mean to be a hero? Do you have to wear a uniform? A cape? Must one leap from building to building in single bounds? How about putting on your straw hat and sunglasses, and heading out on the road for a drive with your dog? Yes, there is an incredible need for these kinds of inspiring heroes, too!

Roaming highways and byways for over half a century, the “The San Diego Highwayman” has saved countless lives. But this superhero’s not a mysterious character; no, we know his name (Thomas Weller), where he lives (San Diego, California), and what he looks like. Even so, with every person he helps, he sends a shockwave through the world—and the best part? He can show you how you can do it, too.

On the notoriously busy freeways of San Diego, a breakdown is just about the last thing you want to have happen. (Check out how they describe the experience on the website California Driving—sounds awful.) But if Thomas Weller is on the road that day or night, you know you’ll find the help you need.

He’s powered by a drive that grew in him when he was 16—a need to keep a powerful chain of events growing; a chain that could very likely make all of our lives better. So, let’s meet this highway hero, shall we?

When the Highwayman Finds You!

Okay so, picture this: you’re driving along, your hands tapping on your steering wheel to your favorite song blasting through the speakers of your car. It’s a beautiful day: the sun’s shining, palm trees are swaying. Then suddenly, you sputter to a stop—you’re out of gas. You didn’t notice how low you were when you left the house, and now there’s not a gas station in sight to refill. Then, out of the stream of cars passing by you, a long, cream-colored car, decked out in lights and stickers, pulls up. Out steps a man with a straw cowboy hat, blue jeans, and sunglasses, carrying a red beacon of hope: a gas can.

With a few minutes of time, you’re on your way again. He refused all payment but left you with two cards. What one of them reads will change the way you go about your day for the rest of your life.

In their series While I’m Here | The Legacy Project, Brent and Tammy Foster introduce us to this humble hero to see why for 53 years Thomas Weller has been driving the roads of San Diego to offer human kindness when it’s needed most.

This film has helped raise over $12,000 to help Thomas fix his beloved car, Buelah!

Brent and Tammy Foster are filmmakers on a mission to tell the stories of those everyday heroes—our neighbors—and pointing out the #ConspiracyofGoodness that’s happening everywhere, all the time, spreading out in ever widening circles!

“I hope that a pebble in the water, the ripples spreading from what I do will spread out wide, and the others that I help, will help others in turn.” — Thomas Weller

You can watch the rest of the Foster’s series, While I’m Here | The Legacy Project by heading over to their website. Or check out our recent article highlighting another one of our favorite episodes next!

10 minutes

How You Can Use Your Own Hobbies to Positively Impact Others!

What can you do for hours that makes the stress of the world melt away? For Ed Nicholson, the answer was fly fishing, and now his passion is helping veterans combat the effects of PTSD. Check out his story and you might be inspired to help people in your own way!

Read More

Spying the hidden heroes among us!

“A hero is someone who does something extraordinary, I’m just doing ordinary things: I happen to be in the right place at the right time…” — Thomas Weller

How many stories have we heard that echo that sentiment? The people around us who, on their own volition, take it into their hands to save their communities like a classic Marvel or DC superhero. Whether they’re turning sidewalks into food, making deadly potholes disappear, or raising the next generation of superheroes, there’s a conspiracy of goodness happening—small heroes, all over the world, doing what they can do to make life a little brighter for each other.

This power comes in many forms—in fact, I’m sure yours looks quite different than Thomas’s. But the effect is still the same. A ripple goes out, passing from one person to the next until suddenly extra loaves of bread are being given to each other, plant seedlings are shared for the garden, or someone’s stopping to help you refuel your car so that you can safely get home to your family.

You’re capable of starting this ripple. Begin with small acts: hold doors open, allow someone into your lane of traffic, listen to your friends when they share their stories with you. And then grow from there.

Two of the easiest ways I’ve seen to be helpful to those in our community (and beyond) are in these articles:

11 minutes

Asking This Question Can Help Us All Feel Less Lonely!

With just one question and five words, we can change somebody's day for the better! Here's the quickest, easiest, least expensive, and most powerful way to be #HelpfulNow at a time when everyone is under so much stress. Let's all give it a try and watch as the magic happens!

Read More

25 minutes

What if Mass Media was Used for Good?

There’s more power in positive media than just making us feel good! Sharing stories that celebrate progress around the world has the ability to change lives. Check out this collective of creators redefining the way we tell the stories about some of our world’s biggest issues, and the people working to alleviate them.

Read More

Heroes are all around us, every day, doing ordinary things under the same code of conduct that Thomas runs under: “You don’t owe me a thing, I’ve been there, too. Someone once helped me, just like I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here’s what you do: don’t let the chain of love end with you.”

See what happens when you give this a try.

As always, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

Carry uplifting stories like this with you, wherever you go!

With custom notifications and our “save-for-later” favorites feature, our app makes it easy to explore, save, and share Ever Widening Circles’ articles right from your phone’s home screen. See how visiting us before you sit down with your other favorite publications makes you feel!Download for a dose of optimism

Notes:

  1. Foster, Brent. “The San Diego Highwayman.” Vimeo, 28 May 2020, vimeo.com/114542749. Accessed 28 May 2020.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.