The Extraordinary Thing a 10 Year Old Boy and 30 Year Old Man Have in Common

By: Shelly Grinfeld | Last updated: Dec 13, 2023

Seemingly a 30-year-old man and a 10-year-old boy have nothing in common but they may have more in common than you think. This story started with 30-year-old, Bryan Tsiliacos, little did he know Max, a 10-year-old was about to inspire him more than any other. Bryan made 400 individual homemade flan desserts and hand-delivered them to firefighters in San Jose, California. Before turning 30, as many of us do, he had a bit of anxiety and looked to find more purpose in his life all while a 10-year-old boy sat captivated and intrigued by Brian’s story, but he didn’t sit for long.

Tsiliaco questioned if he truly fulfilled every aspect of his day-to-day and if he could do more. Byan decided to make a point of doing 30 acts of kindness before he turned 30 in order to jolt back some meaning into his life. This prompted him to do some pretty grand gestures. Little did he know he was about to create a bigger impact beyond his own life and the ones that he directly helped. His journey could very well start and end with a 10-year-old boy.

Too Sweet X 400

The year before turning 30, during his previous birthday, he had done a random act of kindness. Looking for more meaning and to do something good he decided to hand-make 400 flan desserts to then give it to his local firefighters. San Jose firefighters have challenging jobs, they literally run toward fires instead of away from them. How much more selfless can you get than putting yourself in harm’s way for the greater good? Bryan wanted to show how much they were appreciated and decided that spending time baking to give them a sweet treat was the least he could do.

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Source: Bryan Tsiliacos

As his 30th year approached he longed for more of the meaning and purpose he had found while doing something positive for the community like those moments with the firefighters. That’s how his journey started and the seed was planted, growing his idea of giving back more before his 30th year. He couldn’t think of a better way to mark this life milestone.

30 by 30

How did Brian come up with his 30-by 30-challenge? He felt that he wasn’t meeting what society expected of him as he reached this significant birthday milestone. As he told GMA3, “Rather than just dwelling on that, I took a more uplifting approach. I took out a sheet of paper and I started to write down all the things I was grateful for. And by doing that, by expressing my gratitude, I realized that every good thing that happened to me was helped by the support and generosity of others.”

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Source: Bryan Tsiliacos / Facebook

It didn’t take long for news crews to discover what he was up to. With acts like collecting and donating 150 different middle schools in Oakland school supplies it’s hard to miss. It wasn’t long before TV crews started documenting Bryan’s journey of selfless acts and paying it forward. It looks like 10-year-old Max was following too.

An Extraordinary 10-Year-Old

And just like the news crews and community began to take note, so did Maxx. Maxx Raser a 10-year-old boy was visiting at his grandmother’s home when she turned on the news and an interesting story came on. Maxx was glued to the TV and was captivated like he hadn’t been before. His grandmother tried to pull him to do other activities but he just couldn’t bring himself to look away.

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Source: Cristina Raser

It was a segment on Byran and it did not disappoint, detailing his wonderful acts. Acts that benefited the community beyond his direct circle. Maxx wanted to watch as his story unfolded. Little did he know at first that his story was about to hit even closer to home. Maxx found relatability and inspiration from watching Byran do these selfless and positive acts for his community.

A Ferocious Act, Roaring from the Rooftops

The segment went on to detail many of Bryan’s inspirational acts. Among these acts was delivering care packages to the employees working at the Oakland Zoo. It was his 10th act of kindness among a growing list of acts. Tsiliacos showed no signs of slowing down either and hopes to do even more after reaching 30. Making the community a kinder place while finding new meaning in the circles around him through his newfound connections and acts was only one aspect of many that proved transformative and life-changing for him.

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Source: Todd Dailey / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bryan was touched by how these animal caregivers give everything to take care of animals day in and day out. Animals deal with emotional struggles, various treatment needs, and more which require the utmost care, investment, and patience from those who are in charge of taking care of them daily. This isn’t always the most glamorous job but quite possibly one of the most selfless. These righteous humans are also in need of some selfless acts and this is why everyone was so touched by Bryan’s willingness to recognize and give back to them.

The Faces Behind the Lions, Tigers and Bears

He handpicked all the items in these carefully curated care packages and what better day to do this than Animal Wildlife Day? All animal keepers and veterinarians alike got the surprise of a lifetime on a day they expected nothing in return for doing their grueling and sometimes labor-intensive job. As Bryan handed out these boxes he referred to this animal-loving team as “essential workers” and he couldn’t have chosen a better way to recognize them. They truly are essential to these animals.

Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram / midjourney

“You are the unsung heroes who dedicate your lives to the wellbeing of animals so as a token of my appreciation I put together these care boxes filled with delicious treats and a hydro flask water bottle,” Byran told the zoo staff with a smile. The staff was so grateful to be recognized and they are sure to pay it forward beyond the animal kingdom. An employee was quoted as saying, “It’s so nice to have someone single you out and know that you’re doing something because you love it and because you care and I think it’s special for someone to notice that.” It’s always a good feeling to feel appreciated.

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10 by 10

After being transformed by the segment Maxx saw on TV at his grandmother’s house he was also inspired to do something more. That same day he came home with a vision. He told both his mother and grandmother, “Can I do something like that for my 10th birthday?” And that is how Maxx’s 10 by 10 was also born!

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Max and his parents (Cristina and Sean) Source: Cristina Raser

Maxx’s family could not be more proud of Maxx’s initiative to pay it forward and do more acts of kindness that could impact his community, but Maxx and Byran’s story intertwining doesn’t stop there. Their paths were about to cross in a meaningful way.

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Raising Humans

When raising children the best you can hope for is that they are first good human beings and only then successful. That the children you raise become productive and meaningful members of society, through their behavior, their work, their values, and morals is all you wish for. That’s all any parent truly wants for their children. According to studies, your parents have a great influence on who you are as a person, which goes beyond genetic characteristics, this includes behavioral traits as well. This also influences how parents treat their children.

Source: midjourney

Maxx’s mom, Cristina Raser, who works in the Bay Area in the sales staffing industry says, “[She] was really proud.” Byran and Maxx’s parents should both be proud of their sons for giving back and paying it forward in their community. It just goes to show the kind of people they grew up and continue to grow up to be.

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A Man on a Mission

As Maxx’s 10th birthday drew closer and became right around the corner, his mom asked him once again if he was still up for the task of beginning his acts of kindness journey. Maxx answered enthusiastically that he was all in and couldn’t wait to get started. They chose to dive right into the thick of things. Without even meaning to Bryan causes a chain reaction of good deeds around his community and Maxx is just one example of the ripple effects created by simply one act. Now imagine multiplying these acts by 30 and continuing to multiply them until everyone is doing some kind of good deed for one another. Now that is the true definition of power.

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Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram / ABC News / Good Morning America

How does one even begin to define the concept of “paying it forward” in the simplest of terms it is when someone does something nice for you and you then turn around and do something nice for someone else and it comes around full circle. Bryan started an acts of kindness boomerang that transformed not only himself but also those around him and all who met his story in one way or another. This inspired people like Maxx to take kindness even further within the community.

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Grandmother, Alta, Nurse Alta to You

As Maxx geared up to start his kindness journey, Bryan continued his. During National Nurses Week he decided to donate scrubs and tumblers to 167 nurses. He wanted to recognize “nursing heroes” and teamed up with Good Morning America to give the extraordinary nurses at Shriners Children’s Hospital in Northern California the thank you they deserve. Each nurse was presented with a brand-new set of Barco scrubs and a Hydro Flask thermos to express the gratitude he and the community have for the work that they do. This act holds a special place for Bryan because of his grandmother.

Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram

Bryan’s grandmother, Alta, worked at Shriners Children’s as a nurse for almost three decades. It was important for him to honor her while doing his acts of kindness and it seemed like the perfect way to give back to her as well as others. In order to commemorate her extraordinary acts of kindness and her selfless work during her time as a nurse, 27 years to be exact, he revealed a commemorative plaque in her honor. This is a lovely reminder of her, located in the hospital for everyone who passes it to appreciate all her hard work and be inspired by her as well.

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Even after National Nurses Week is long behind this act of kindness serves as a reminder to not take things and people for granted and to always thank the nurses that take care of us and our families. The plaque is symbolic of this and goes beyond even Bryans’s grandmother, Alta. It serves as a way for Alta to make an impact even beyond space and time in the hospital during her service.

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Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram / ABC / Good Morning America

According to Bryan, “Their unwavering commitment and selflessness truly define heroism” and I think everyone would agree. Many companies jumped at the chance to show their appreciation and gratitude as well. Professional Wear by Barco joined in to donate “Grey’s Anatomy” signature scrubs and Hydro Flask gifted everyone their Hydro Flask Tumbler. Bryan was interviewed and said how touched he was that his grandma’s legacy lives on in all of the nurses currently continuing their work at the hospital.

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Movie Star Nurses

Everyone should really feel like a movie star, especially these nurses. They can certainly dress like one after this. They all received their own medical scrubs inspired by the hit show ‘Grey’s Anatomy” and it was an iconic moment for everyone involved. But the acts of kindness didn’t stop there. Erica a nurse at the hospital and her manager Robert stepped forward. Robert nominated her for a special prize.

Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram / ABC / Good Morning America

Robert says he nominated Erica for several reasons one of which is, that “she goes above and beyond every step of the way” and that she challenges him in situations which not a lot of employees do. According to her manager, she puts herself on the line for the best interest of the patient’s care. This fire and passion intrigued Robert and he said he had to understand her backstory which moved him to nominate her for such a recognition. Erica grew up for a while in foster care and had to take care of her siblings which motivated her to be a “beacon of light, not only for her siblings but for others” Robert shares. There was not a dry eye in the house, that’s for sure.

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Erica's Surprise

Erica shares that while she was in the foster system she witnessed a nurse taking care of someone by feeding him with a tube and it stood out as a core memory for her, the selflessness, the patience, and the desire to help someone else. She always wanted to look out for her siblings and those around her as a result. It inspired her to become a nurse and when her and her siblings were seperated for a time, their reuniting put all this in perspective for her. She wanted her siblings to believe in themselves and be inspired to be the best versions of themselves and vowed to lead by example.

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Source: goodmorningamerica.com

Erica says, “It was important to me that they knew that you didn’t have to be the circumstances you came from and that we can be different.” It’s an important lesson in always trying to be better than yesterday and being better for your community not just for yourself. She now has 10 years under her belt as a nurse at the hospital and it sure to grow with her belief in the hospital’s mission “to serve the underserved.” The big surprise reveal is an 8-day, 7-night trip by Adventures by Disney to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island for Erica and her family, another boomerang of kindness that propelled from Bryan’s journey.

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National Pizza Day!🍕

Don’t worry we didn’t forget Maxx but first we need to talk about National Pizza Day. We can’t fully understand this acts of kindness journey without giving some pizza our attention. Another act of kindness on Bryan’s list of 30 acts by 30 was giving elementary school kids something to remember, talk about a core memory. Your attitude and your kindness all start developing at a young age so who better to show an act of kindness to than 360 kids at an elementary school on National Pizza Day? Inspiring kids, like Maxx. and giving them motivation to be valued members of society all starts with being valued kids in society.

Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram /

“The lesson I want to impart to everyone here is on gratitude. It’s very important to just show appreciation to others. You never know how far an act of kindness may take you,” according to Bryan. These kids can be heard saying, “Thank you, Bryan” throughout the yard filled with pizza and full hearts. With an attitude like this, it’s no wonder Maxx was feeling inspired as well to jump into action.

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Officer On Duty

We are beginning to understand why Maxx was so glued to the television after seeing only a few clips of Bryan hard at work. It’s hard not to get in our feelings after seeing people so moved and touched by Bryan’s wonderful and memorable acts. Bryan went on to surprise his local police department with sandwiches on Random Acts of Kindness Day. There is no better day to start giving back and doing something kind than today. With the help of Ike’s Sandwiches, Bryan supplied the whole department with a delicious lunch free of charge and it really made a difference.

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Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram

“As essential workers, you are the backbone of this community” Bryan can be heard saying in the police station halls, “so as a token of my appreciation I brought delicious Ike’s Sandwiches to enjoy for lunch.” All the police officers were nothing short of touched by his act. One of the officers said, “We all get into this profession to make a difference. We do it to be positive people in our community, however when we see things like this it just kind of reassures us why we got into this profession.”

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Paying it Forward

Another officer understood the assignment. He said, “Today I’ll go home, and I’ll try to make myself pay to forward just because of that positive interaction that we had today.” This is the exact thing that this journey is all about, spreading kindness to others and creating a more positive and meaningful space for everyone.

Source: 30actsby30 / Instagram

Bryan Tsiliacos says that he hopes, “that this small act of kindness brings a smile to your faces and makes you realize that the community really values your dedication to protecting us.”

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Community Exposure

Bryan began to garner more recognition through the inspiration and kindness he continued to spread within the community and beyond. As a result of this more talk shows and news outlets wanted to spread his message and tell his story. He got invited to interviews by Tamron Hall, Good Morning America, the local news, and more. As more people got involved in his kindness journey, his journey got bigger and bigger and he was able to do much more with the help of others.

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Source: Bryan Tsiliacos / Facebook / Tameron Hall

Meanwhile, Maxx’s mom took matters into her own hands and set out on another mission. As Maxx began his kindness journey in the community, Cristina made a point to try to get ahold of Bryan and tell her about her son and what he was planning. She hoped she could get a hold of Bryan and they could hopefully team up and surprise Maxx for his first kind act.

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Sandwich Making

National Sandwich Day coming up, and it felt right to make sandwiches to feed the homeless. In California simply examining the years between 2010 to 2020, homelessness has increased by 31%. Between 2020 to 2022 alone the stats have increased by 6% only in California. That is an unprecedented rate. The COVID pandemic is said to be a big contributor to the increase in such homelessness and therefore many homeless shelters could use the extra help in feeding all these extra people affected by homelessness.

Source: Bryan Tsiliacos / Facebook

Maxx being the kind and selfless kid that he is, decides to use all his birthday money in order to purchase all the ingredients needed to make the sandwiches for the shelter. All 75 dollars he received from friends and family for his birthday went to his acts of kindness project. He was so excited to do something meaningful with the gifts he received. Meaningful it was indeed, it would feed countless of hungry stomachs.

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Say Cheese!

Maxx went straight to work and decided to purchase his winning ingredients, bread, cheese, turkey, and ham. You can’t really get started on the sandwich-making front without the bread first. The bread is perhaps the most crucial part of the sandwich-making process. His dad also joined in on the action and Maxx alongside his dad made an assembly line in order to get all these sandwiches assembled in time for the big day. Mom helped too of course.

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Source: Cristina Raser

In total, he successfully made 100 sandwiches for the homeless shelter in time for National Sandwich Day, no small feat at all! These sandwiches were sure to make a splash on the people who needed them, especially since it was made with great care and love from Maxx who wanted to help. Maxx couldn’t wait for the next day to deliver them all.

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Meeting Maxx

Maxx a 10-year-old boy from San Ramon, California, a city in Contra Costa County located 34 miles east of San Francisco, could not be more excited to get out there are pass out his sandwiches. He decided to bring his sandwiches to San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter, Multi-Service Center South. His mom, Cristina said she was so touched by her son’s compassion that she almost burst to tears as her son took his sandwich ingredients home and began to assemble.

Source: Cristina Raser

To understand who Maxx is and the type of person he strives to be all you need to hear is what he said as he began the sandwich-making process, “This feels really good, Mommy. It makes me happy that I’m helping people.” Maxx’s dad, Sean was also touched by his son’s efforts and sentiments. He is a high school computer science teacher and spends day in and day out with impressionable minds so he understands how important it is to teach these core values and was so happy to see his son put giving back to others into practice.

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The Team Up

Maxx’s mom’s call paid off because when Bryan heard about the impact his story made and how it inspired her son to give back Bryan was thrilled. He loved the opportunity to join in and help Maxx give back. That’s how this team-up was born. Tsiliacos was just as excited to meet Maxx as Maxx was excited to meet him and this moment could not be more heartwarming.

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Source: Cristina Raser

As told by Bryan, “I saw him wheeling in those sandwiches and I gave him a fist bump,” he said. He was touched by feeling as though there was a full circle moment. Bryan told the Washington Post, “I saw it as a full circle moment to see another generation wanting to continue what I’d started to express my own gratitude.”

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Into the Thick of Things... Mostly Bread

Bryan and Maxx arrived at the shelter and together, started to pass out the delicious sandwiches that Maxx worked so hard to make. Additionally, Tsiliacos got two different local delis, Irving Subs and Ikes Sandwiches, who wanted to also give back, to donate another 100 sandwiches. Together with Maxx’s, it made for 200 sandwiches and 200 full smiles and bellies as a result of Maxx and Bryan’s act of kindness.

Source: Cristina Raser

Bryan went on to say one his 30by30 instagram page that it served as “a reminder that each and every one of us has the potential to make a difference in our community. Age, the size of your organization, or the resources at your disposal don’t define your ability to create positive change. It just goes to show that when we come together to make the world a better place, there’s absolutely no limit to the good we can achieve.” And we have to agree! Sometimes there is more than what meets the eye and both a 30-year-old young man and a 10-year-old boy can make a similar impact by doing good. We have more in common than we think.

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Partners in Good

Maxx was so inspired by Bryan but Bryan was just as inspired by Maxx. It just goes to show that no matter how old you are, what kind of resources you have, or where you come from, whether similar, the same or different we all have the means to do good and give back in some way. That perhaps is the biggest lesson of all.

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Source: Bryan Tsiliacos / Facebook

You never know who you’re inspiring or whose life you’re changing so it is important to put your best foot forward and always try to impact lives for the better. Creating a positive space has the potential to redefine someone’s world and change the course of their life. Just like Erica becoming a nurse, Maxx starting his acts of kindness, and that Police Officer who decided to pay it forward as a result of Bryan’s good deed.

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A Pat on the Back

Both Maxx and Bryan’s acts of kindness didn’t go unrecognized and NBC Bay Area came to document the event. It was nice for them both to be able to use their platform to spread the word about their act of kindness and hopefully inspire others to do some more kind acts in the community and beyond. In the same breathe though, getting recognized shouldn’t be the reason behind wanting to do a kind act.

Source: Bryan Tsiliacos / Facebook / NBC Bay Area

It’s that selflessness that makes the act so kind, just like the animal shelter workers who take care of the animals, the firefighters and police officers who protect us and so many more. There are many acts of kindness all around us and it is important to stop and take note once in awhile.

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Happy Birthday!

It’s safe to say that Maxx had an incredible birthday that he will always remember. The happy-go-lucky hockey-loving ten-year-old also made his birthday extra special for others around him as well, because what is happiness if not shared with others? We can’t wait to see what Bryan and Maxx do for their next birthday.

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Source: Cristina Raser

We vote for another team-up, it’s sure to be a good one. Stay kind!

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