Earlier this year, Daniel was just another unemployed college student preparing for summer vacation.
"I was thinking of trying to get a job in video game design. I had been applying for internships -- and if that didn't work out, I was going to get an apartment with a friend and spend the whole summer coding," the 22-year-old forensics major told the Huffington Post.
But on a whim, just days before his summer holiday was due to begin, Daniel (who didn't want his full name revealed) said he came up with an idea that would change everything.
This summer, Daniel said, he was determined to do something dramatically different -- something meaningful and perhaps even a little profound.
Inspired by the travels of two Reddit users who had taken a jet-setting adventure across the United States in 2009, Daniel decided that he would spend his summer traveling around the world helping strangers in whatever way he could.
And like the two Reddit voyagers who had paved the way before him, Daniel took to the social news site to spread the word.
In his original Reddit post, Daniel, using the moniker Generique, explained:
I want to have a Reddit-powered epic summer adventure. As a result of having a family member employed by a large airline, I have the ability to travel non-rev status (if there’s empty seats and no one ahead of me in line), paying only departure taxes. I’d rather not disclose the specific airline, in case I get into shenanigans that might reflect on them.
Want me to hand deliver a letter to someone across the country or overseas? Attempt to help you with homework? Volunteer at your organization for a day? Need an extra pair of hands to do that landscaping project you’ve been putting off for months? Know a sweet hiking spot but have no one to go with?
"I realized that being able to fly for pretty cheap is a pretty big privilege, so I wanted to use it to the best of my abilities," he said. "Sure, I could've gone to Cancun or Ibiza and partied all summer, but I thought I'd be more productive and would really accomplish something if I helped people along the way."
Never, however, could he have imagined the response he would receive.
Within the span of 24 hours, thousands of comments had poured in and the requests -- from heart-meltingly sweet to outrightly bizarre -- were in no short supply.
Daniel estimates that he received approximately 300 requests from people all across the globe.
"Somebody wanted me to go visit them, collect a jar of fart from them and deliver it to one of their old roommates," said Daniel, recalling one of the weirder demands.
"Another girl -- whose father had just gone through a divorce and was having a bad year -- wanted me to go to Chicago to give him a hug," he said.
The young adventurer, an American who goes to college in Canada, admits that it was "extremely" difficult to decide which of the requests he would try to fulfill.
But within a week of his first post, Daniel -- having created a not-very-short shortlist -- packed his bags and began his adventure.
Over the next 11 weeks, Daniel traveled the world, doing what he could to bring a smile or two to a stranger's face.
From finding a spider in Australia…
to moving a couch in Denver…
to teaching English in a school in rural Thailand...
to sitting for a self-portrait in San Francisco.
Four countries and several US cities later, Daniel had accomplished around 30 to 40 things on his list.
Out of all of them, Daniel told the HuffPost that the one task that has impacted him the deepest was perhaps one of the most mundane.
"I washed a car for a family, which was a really simple thing to do. It seems like such a small thing, but it seemed to really help," he said. "Their son has down syndrome and leukemia -- and for me to do that one small thing and leave, they seemed pretty thrilled by it."
Daniel also said he was deeply moved by the outpouring of encouragement and trust showed to him by the many people he met during his travels.
"I was staying with complete strangers, through Reddit, and the generosity of these people I had never met just blew me away. From couches, floors, pull-out beds and home-cooked meals, there was no end to what people were willing to offer. Some people even offered to lend me their car -- which I thought was pretty crazy," he said.
Now back home, Daniel said he hopes that he'll be able to do this again sometime soon.
"If possible, I would love to do it next summer," he told HuffPost.
[there's a slideshow at the end of the
Sunday Feel-Good Story. It's been interesting to see the reaction to this story: people want and need permission to be kind. Sorry if this is too First World!