Bears have big hearts.
So it’s no surprise that two Bears are behind a movement that’s known as “Buzzing Love.” Through random acts of kindness, they “buzz” love around the country.
I am one of those Bears.
I graduated from Missouri State in 2001, and today work in the office of editorial and design services bringing you stories of our alumni.
But I am part of this story.
It’s a story of friendship, tragedy and love.
It started in 2007 when I was a reporter at the Springfield News-Leader. A new reporter joined our team, Jaime Mowers — a 2004 Missouri State grad. We became fast friends.
Jaime was from Webster Groves, Missouri, and worked in Springfield for two years before moving to be closer to Travis, her now-husband.
Jaime is unforgettable. She’s bubbly, genuine, determined, strong, kind and an enthusiastic reporter.
She is simply effervescent.
But her life was plunged in darkness on June 29, 2014, when her father, her hero, was murdered.
Her dad Gary Baranyai was a proud U.S. Marine, a devoted father, husband and friend. He had an infectious laugh, loved to skydive and never knew a stranger.
The loss was devastating to Jaime and her family.
I remember the night I got the news. I told my husband, who said my best friend as I knew her was gone forever.
As the first anniversary of Gary’s death approached in 2015, I wanted to do something to ease the pain of the day. With the help of her husband, I set up a secret Facebook group and asked everyone to do a good deed in honor of Gary, post the act of kindness on Facebook and tag Jaime or me.
“I can’t imagine my life without buzzing love. This ‘army of love’ has taught me how to keep living and loving within the pain. Everyone has a story, everyone has a struggle — let us help each other and be kind to one another. When the pain shatters us, it’s the love and kindness that saves us.” — Jaime Mowers
My hope was that every 30 minutes or so, the Facebook page would light up and Jaime and her family would have something positive to focus on.
Facebook was electric that day. I couldn’t keep up with the posts. At times, they were coming every few minutes. From Missouri to Louisiana and Florida, people brightened their corners of the world with kindness.
They baked cookies for firefighters, helped neighbors, sent thank-you cards and flowers, over-tipped waiters, bought coffee for the car behind them at the drive-thru and so much more.
It was incredible.
A mutual friend came up with the idea to unite all these posts using a hashtag — #buzzingloveforgarybee — because Jaime and her dad loved to exchange bumblebee-themed gifts. This was later shortened to #buzzinglove.
The following year, Jaime’s husband and two friends bought the web domain BuzzingLove.org so Jaime could share her story.
Buzzing Love has taken on a life of its own. Jaime has been featured in newspapers such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She has been on television and the radio, and delivered numerous talks in Missouri and Illinois.
Now, as editor-in-chief and part-owner of the Webster-Kirkwood Times newspaper, she has a monthly Buzzing Love column in which she shares good deeds in her community.
While June 29 is our big day, Buzzing Love followers also commit random acts of kindness all throughout the year.
On June 29, I did not lose my best friend, as I feared. In fact, since that day, there is even more kindness in the world.
Tragedy changes people, but Jaime refused to let it destroy or define her.
She remains as kind and effervescent as she has always been, trying to make the world a better place.