A bus painted blue with dozens of inspirational phrases made its way through Cleveland on Monday hoping to lift the community and share a few smiles.
“This is a huge calling,” said Bob Votruba, the owner and operator of The Kindness Bus.
His teammate Bogart, a 9-year-old Boston Terrier, is the perfect pal.
“He's my wing dog," Votruba said. "He really brings people over of all ages which is great."
The idea for the Kindness Bus, Vortuba said, started 10 years ago after the tragedy at Virginia Tech.
“I think it was really the sheer number of people who are just devastated. I was so deeply and profoundly moved I said you know I can do something about this," he explained.
So, at 52 years old, he sold everything he had, traded his life of comfort for one of compassion, and bought a bus. He painted it blue and covered it in inspiration messages. The Kindness Bus was born.
"The bus is all about the goodness of life, kindness, compassion, gratitude, respect, those sort of core values," he said.
He buses across the country and bikes through towns passing out flyers inspiring people to do good deeds and bring awareness to a variety of social issues.
“Currently, I'm riding for kids with special needs and autism,” he explained. “A lot of these kids with higher hurdle in life are then bullied and it's so unfair."
He pays for all of his travels himself.
“There were times when I had to dig for change in some of the drawers and on the bus to have money for gas," he said.
He's gone through two buses so far in his travels.
Staci Brown, who has a son with Down's Syndrome, saw the bus on her morning walk and stopped to take a look.
“That really struck a chord [with me]," said Brown of Votruba's mission.
“It does make me very emotional because his three short years we've actually experience two times that we've been discriminated against, so it's real, so acceptance and inclusion is something that's a must," said Brown.
For Votruba, that’s a mission accomplished.
“This has really filled every cell of my body. I love this with my entire being and I will do this the rest of my life," he said.
The original Kindness Bus is on display at Virginia Tech University.