Tyler Stallings: The 8-year-old boy who raised over $50,000 for homeless Veterans
Come here Tyler, I want to show you something.” Andrea Blackstone laughs now as she remembers the day she acted “on a whim,” and showed her 4-year-old son some videos about the military and veterans.
“We’re from a family of veterans,” Andrea says, so she wanted to make sure her son grew up appreciating the military. She frequently took the time to offer her son these early education lessons. She just had no idea that this lesson would take their lives in a whole new direction.
Tyler Stallings paid close attention to the videos showing different eras of military service.
Then, when a video about veterans commandeered the screen on Andrea’s phone, Tyler bolted upright. The image of a man sitting on the sidewalk, holding a “Homeless Veteran” sign was too much for him.
Eyes wide, Tyler turned to his mother in dismay. “Mom!” he said, “You just told me these people are heroes! Why would he be on the street?”
Small children tend to view the world in terms of possibilities rather than impossibilities. Tyler is no exception, and when he told his mother he wanted to ask the governor of Maryland some questions about veterans, Andrea had a decision to make.
Her son was just 4 years old. She hadn’t expected him to react like this. Still, she didn’t want to kill that spirit, so she made the call to the governor’s office.
In the beginning, she remembers, everyone thought Tyler was just a kid with a question. But when she explained to the very kind assistant how serious her son was, the governor’s office bought in to Tyler’s passion. Together they came up with the idea for “Give Back to Veterans Day.”
For one day, people in Maryland were encouraged to reach out to veterans and thank them – even though it was not Veterans Day. It was a day without ceremonies or political posts or nationwide sales. It was a day for kids to have fun with saying “Thank You” and to surprise local veterans with extra appreciation.
It was a great day, and it was just the beginning for Tyler.
Tyler is naturally packed with energy and inquisitiveness. His mom developed the practice of using these traits as allies rather than adversaries. He sees no problem with his drive that keeps him awake well past his bedtime. His little voice carries loud and clear as he pronounces, “I hate bedtime!”
Rather than let her son lull himself to sleep with movies or exhaust himself with video games, Andrea helped her little night owl fly away with his imagination, and Tyler wrote his first book.
“When Tyler Goes Around the World” is about a superhero who flies around the world each night. He does charity work and teaches kids about different religions in different countries. He donates the majority of the book proceeds back toward veterans.
Now Eight years old, Tyler Stallings is working on his second book. He’s also an honorary CEO, and is becoming a national superhero in his own right.
He’s fresh out of business cards but if you ask, Tyler will tell you all about his company, Kidtime Enterprises. It’s something his mom worked to set up for Tyler to update people on his work, appearances, and opportunities to get involved. Through Andrea, Tyler is able to reach a growing audience and gain more support for his work.
Some kids like camping. Others like helping animals or playing sports or going to the movies. Tyler likes making things happen. His passion has inspired his mom and countless others to help him raise money and gather items to hand out to veterans in need. Backpacks filled with hygiene items and snacks, shoes dropped off to shelters and non-profits open to veterans, warm clothing in time for the cold weather – Tyler makes sure as many veterans as possible receive all these things. He and his mom personally make the deliveries, and he’s become a welcome face to a growing community.
“One time we were making a delivery, “Tylers tells us, “Just going to see one of my favorite veterans and somebody said Thank You!” His eyes practically twinkle as he tells us about the veteran who’d called out to him, holding his new pair of shoes in his hand. “I could use these shoes today!” the veteran said.
It’s moments like those that both Tyler and his mom love. It’s seeing and hearing the faces and voices of the veterans his heart has lead him to help, that makes his little heart beat stronger.
When asked why he thinks it’s important for people to help other people, Tyler is quick to answer that instead of everybody focusing on what they don’t have, we should focus on what we do have. He knows there are bad people in the world. He hears the news, too. And just like so many of us feel, Tyler agrees that “there isn’t always bad people in the world. There’s bad people in the world and there’s good people in the world.”
His passion for helping veterans and his penchant for inspiring others to be kinder in their own lives is noticed not just by the people he directly impacts, but by the media as well.
Tyler Stalling has been a guest on Steve Harvey’s show Little Big Shots. He’s also featured on national news channels and People Magazine for the work he does to support veterans.
At first an audience may think he’s just an adorable little boy. Some are even quick to comment that Tyler is far too young to do what he’s doing of his own volition. Andrea has been accused of pushing her own agenda onto a child, and Tyler has been dismissed as a gullible little boy simply pleasing his mother.
Neither of those things could be further from the truth.
Does Angela support her son? Yes. Sometimes she finishes sentences for him when his mind wanders off on tangents. Yes, she had to take the lead on developing a website for Tyler’s brainchild. Yes, KidTimeEnterprises.com is up and running under her watchful eye and her support. But Andrea is adamant that Tyler is in charge of his own involvement. Tyler Stallings agrees.
“Tell them what I always say to you, Tyler,” Andrea coaxes. Tyler’s little voice again booms out as he leans forward and says, “If I don’t want to do it I don’t have to do it but every time she asks if I want to do it I say yes!”
How can other people say “Yes” to making an impact in their lives? We asked Tyler this and he quickly answered:God has something for you…..You can do your thing that you like. You don’t have to be like somebody else. You can do it at any age. – Tyler StallingsClick To Tweet
Tyler Stallings is now eight years old and he’s already figured out the importance of following his heart.
He has been on a mission to help homeless veterans since he was 4, and so far, this little “superhero” has raised over $50,000 for his cause.
Tyler hopes to raise enough funds for a truck soon too, so that he and his mother can use it deliver even more items to the shelter in order to help more homeless veterans.
He and his mom are not only helping veterans through difficult times, they are serving as a template for others to follow.