Man and dog on a mission to spread kindness

Cassandra Adams

Bus tour visits KSU to encourage youth to do good deeds

Bob Votruba is a nomadic traveler campaigning across the country to promote his “One Million Acts of Kindness” with his dog Bogart. Cassandra Adams | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Bob Votruba and his Boston terrier, Bogart, are traveling across the country to institute an inspirational movement on college campuses and in high schools. The first stop in his journey: Kent State.

Tuesday, the bus tour stopped in an effort to promote “One Million Acts of Kindness.” While on campus, he handed out lists of local contacts for charities and volunteers that will be accessible to students. Free stickers were also available, as well as Votruba’s attention. He said he is more than willing to talk with anyone he can.

Votruba, a 54-year-old Cleveland native and retiree, said he wanted to take this journey because he wanted his life to be as meaningful as possible.

“I was divorced, my children were grown, my finances were in order and it seemed like the perfect time to make it happen,” Votruba said. “I’m getting older every year and didn’t want to wake up one day and describe myself as a home-builder. I wanted to do something I was passionate about.”

Six years prior to his “One Million Acts of Kindness” campaign, Votruba started “Sow Only Seeds of Love.” The saying was printed on stickers, and he said he noticed they caught people’s eyes, especially those of young children.

“When Virginia Tech happened, I went down there,” Votruba said. “I wasn’t sure how they’d react, but I just set up my station far to the side of the memorial. The responses to what I was doing were shocking: hugs, hand-written letters, e-mails. The raw human emotion of these people I witnessed who had experienced such a loss was riveting.”

Wanting to take his first venture to a new level, “One Million Acts of Kindness ” became an upgraded spinoff.

Plans were set forth, and not long after Votruba gave away most of his possessions and sold some to purchase his new ride, which will be his home for the next decade.

The 84-square-foot bus holds a bed, a makeshift shower, clothes, memorable pictures and most importantly, Bogart’s kennel.

Although Votruba had previously lived a middle-class lifestyle, he said he doesn’t mind the tight quarters.

“I love it. I want to be behind the wheel [of the bus] when I go,” he said.

His stops, which are flexible, but precisely organized, are coined “loops.” The first year loop goes from Cleveland to Southern Florida and ends in Maine around June 2010.

The project will be set up on campuses nationwide to bring attention to the cause, counteract hatred and connect generations.

Votruba will be blogging regularly, and he will use Facebook and Twitter as communication tools for interested followers.

“One of my sons asked me what was my ultimate goal to achieve,” he said. “I thought for some time. I realized that I hope to have another Mother Theresa – no I hope there’s a thousand.”

Contact news correspondent Cassandra Adams at [email protected].