GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The Provencal family dreads the month of October every year, ever since 1992.
That’s when 17-year-old Adam Provencal wanted to clear up a misunderstanding on Halloween night, about a prank he had nothing to do with. He knocked on the door of the target of the prank, and the man on the other side of the door, Todd Vriesenga, fired his shotgun.
Adam died the next morning.
Eight years ago, Adam’s sister, Lara Capuano, decided to turn the dread of the month of October into action and came up with Adams Acts.
She started a blog where she shares the weight she and her family members feel in the weeks leading up to Halloween night. She also shared the challenge for others to be like Adam and show kindness to friends and strangers.
Elizabeth Gervais is their step-sister and lived with them at the time of Adam’s death. She is now a teacher at Adam’s alma mater, Grand Haven High School, and helps Capuano spread the word about #AdamsActs.
“As a 10-year-old, it was hard to process and understand,” Gervais said. “Even now looking back, you never really forget those really hard moments.”
She said it’s been incredible to see something Capuano started to help with her own healing take off and grow into a way to spread kindness. They have received messages from people all over the country and internationally about how they’ve made a difference in Adam’s name.
Camden Nelson is Adam’s nephew. His mom, Kristin Nelson, is Adam’s oldest sister. He only recently learned the whole story of what happened to the uncle he never met.
“Each year I learned new information about the story. Some of it I was sheltered from but last year was actually the first year where I learned everything, with all the detail,” he said. “It hurts, because I want to know what it would be like today. I just would want to meet him because he seems like a pretty cool guy.”
He explained that seeing Adams Acts out in the community make the family feel good, and it shows that Adam is still a part of Grand Haven.
He remembers his mom taking him at a young age to share an #AdamsAct. They would leave quarters on the candy machines for unsuspecting children to find.
Despite the grief his mom and her siblings all feel during this time of year, they still gave Camden Nelson the typical childhood experiences like trick-or-treating.
Gervais loves to see the creative ideas people come up with for their acts of kindness, whether it’s leaving gift cards on windshields, raking someone’s yard or — as happened to her one year — leaving 17 lottery tickets in her mailbox.
“It’s just awesome for our family to be able to see Adam’s legacy live on. To be able to bring that here to Grand Haven and the community to bring it full circle is really special for everyone,” Gervais said.
This year, Capuano would like to take her challenge beyond an act of kindness to grow two scholarships in Adam’s name.
One is for a student like Adam, who excels academically and in athletics. The other is for a student who is not like Adam: someone from a disadvantaged background or without the necessary means to continue their education.
You can make a donation through Venmo at @AdamsActs or Cash App at $AdamsActs. You can also send her a message at email@example.com for alternative methods of donation.
“The greatest kindness you could possibly show to my family is sharing this with others to ensure that even after 30 years, Adam’s legacy of kindness and generosity in will live on, showing that even in the midst of tragedy, hope will always win,” Capuano says on her website.