How A Stranger’s Wrong Number Text To This Father Ended Up Changing His Family’s Life
Tony Wood was minding his own business one day when a wrong number text from a random stranger hit him like a ton of bricks. It was sent from an unknown number and contained a photo of someone he didn’t recognize. Most people wouldn’t bother replying to such a message, seemingly sent by mistake, but Wood didn’t have much going on that day anyway. His wife was out of the house and he was hanging with the kids—what did he have to lose? He didn’t know it then, but his reaction to the message would set forth an unimaginable series of events that would end up changing the course of his life.
1. An Unexpected Message
Tony Wood was sitting at home with his kids one day when he received an incredibly out-of-place text. He received the message from an unknown number shortly after he had acquired his realtor’s license in Tennessee, but Wood was accustomed to calls from total strangers, after all, it was part of the trade.
This time, he thought, some eager buyer must have decided to shoot him a text instead of giving him a call. It was, after all, the 21st century. But was it really a buyer? One thing would lead to another after Wood opened the text, and the chance event would end up leading to a chain of events that would change his life forever.
2. Not For His Eyes
When Tony Wood opened the random text, his eyes popped out of his head. It didn’t say anything about houses or apartments—the message clearly didn’t come from a potential client seeking his professional real estate services. In fact, Tony quickly realized the text wasn’t intended for his eyes at all.
He was most likely lucky his wife wasn’t seated next to him when he received it—there could have easily been some kind of misunderstanding that could lead to an unpleasant exchange, to say the least. In fact, his wife wasn’t home at all at the time, so he couldn’t get her opinion on the matter. But she wouldn’t be left in the dark for long.
3. What Was In The Text?
The text sent to Tony Wood that day turned out to be from a young woman. She had sent a photo of herself in an elegant, floor-length gown, asking for an opinion on how it looked. It must have been intended for a close friend or loved one, but Wood was neither of those.
The dress was a deep navy blue with a touch of glitzy silver lining. The young woman must have been preparing for prom, a wedding or another black tie event that warranted dressing to the nines. Instead of asking her friend, though, she had sent the photo to a father of six by mistake. How would Tony respond to the text?
4. The Moment Of Truth
Not everyone answers wrong number texts when they are clearly sent by mistake—why worry about a stranger’s business if you can just move on with your own life? The young woman would hopefully figure it out eventually. And that prospect presented one option for Tony Wood in this situation.
He could have gone a totally different route as well if he were a less-than well-intentioned person, but Tony wasn’t—he was a family man. Instead, he decided to do something very few people would. He would take the opportunity to spread some good vibes and put a smile on this young woman’s face, or at least he’d try his best.
5. A Random Act Of Kindness
In order to make his mystery sender’s day, Tony Wood had a brilliant idea. He started by herding his kids into the room to get their opinions on the dress—which was unanimously that it looked great on the young woman. Their response was wholesome and it was positive–they loved it!
The next step was to convince the little rascals to squeeze in tight for a picture, all of them signaling a “thumbs up” for the dress. They did. Tony then snapped the photo and sent it to the woman. They were all excited for her reaction, trading thoughts on whether she’d respond. And the story didn’t end there.
6. Would She React?
Tony Wood wasn’t expecting a reply when he responded to his mystery woman’s accidental text—his intention was all about spreading positivity, and that’s why he had sent a photo of his children instead of, say, a bland “Sorry, wrong number” response. Still, he and the children were hoping for something back.
The family had gotten a kick out of the situation and thought it would be nice to know if she had as well. Tony and the kids waited, and waited. But nothing happened, so they eventually moved on with their lives and forgot about the woman. A few weeks later, though, Tony would encounter something relating back to that wrong number text that would make him do a double take.
7. Twitter Fingers
Several weeks had passed since Tony Wood had responded to the random wrong number text when he found himself surfing the web. Tony was quite a regular on Twitter at the time, as he used the platform to promote himself as a real estate agent. While scrolling through the usual Twitter ramblings of pundits, journalists and his friends, he came across something that stood out to him immediately.
It was a photo of his children signaling a “thumbs up”—the same one he had sent the wrong number texter weeks ago. It turned out it was part of a post by a woman named Mandi Miller. In the post, she had also included the texting thread between Wood and the mystery woman in the dress, and even the photos of her in the dress. What was going on here?
8. Twitter Famous?
It turned out Mandi Miller had penned some text to caption the tweet and it revealed that the woman in the dress who had texted Tony Wood was a friend of hers, named Syd. The second he saw the tweet in its entirety, he knew what was happening. “Oh, this is cool! The kids are Twitter famous,” he recalled thinking.
The tweet, which Miller had since pinned to her page, garnered upward of 170,000 retweets, 680,000 likes and more than 500 comments. Tony and the kids may have never received a response from Syd herself, but this was just incredible. “Hey, I’m gonna say hello!” Tony recalled thinking. His “hello” would have bigger implications than he knew at the time.
9. A Simple Hello
Tony Wood followed through with his intention. He tweeted a response to Mandi Miller, introducing himself and letting her know that he’d stumbled upon the tweet. Even if this story had ended here, it would be a remarkably sweet one. After all, how often to people reply to random numbers and proceed to have a pleasant exchange?
Not often. But this was just the beginning. In his introduction tweet, Tony included a piece of information about his family no one else knew at the time. It was seemingly an innocent tidbit of information that would result in a turn of events that the Wood family would never forget. Let’s just say that if this story is any indication, karma just might be a real thing.
10. Who Was Missing In The Photo?
What no one on Twitter knew about the “thumbs up” picture of Tony Wood’s family is that two of its members were missing—his son, Kaizler, and his wife, Rachel. That’s because they were at the hospital at the time Tony received the photo from Syd. He had been home watching the rest of the kids.
Tony included as much in his tweet to Mandi Miller, explaining his side of the wrong-number story. But the reason Kaizler had been in the hospital the day his father received the accidental text would prompt another incredible development in the episode that began with a seemingly innocuous text message to a wrong number.
11. When Sickness Struck
Back in 2015, Kaizler Wood began acting lethargic and suffered from a nagging fever that just wouldn’t go away. At first, his parents Tony and Rachel Wood didn’t make much of it. But it eventually got so severe that they rushed their son to his primary care physician to figure out what was going on.
The doctor could tell it wasn’t just an ear infection or the like—and Kaizler tested negative for the flu. Something was fishy and the doctor wanted to get to the bottom of it immediately. She requested blood work immediately to get to the bottom of his symptoms.
12. It Was Serious
Not long after getting blood work done, Tony and Rachel Wood received a call saying their son needed to be taken to the hospital—doctors suspected he was anemic, or worse. “They told us that he either had a severe viral infection, or he had Leukemia,” Tony said. “We have never prayed so hard for a severe viral infection in our lives.”
It was a difficult predicament to be in, and it happened right before Christmas at that. The Woods hoped and prayed for good news. What would the doctor say? If you’re wondering how all this is connected to Syd’s texting mistake, keep reading.
13. The Worst Possible News
It was the day before Christmas Eve when the doctor called Tony and Rachel Wood to deliver the diagnosis of their son. That’s when they were told what no parent would ever want to hear: It wasn’t a virus. Their son did indeed have leukemia. As devastating as the news was, they never lost hope.
They had faith that, in the end, everything would be alright. “Through it all though, we know God is with us,” Tony said. “He has shown himself to us on several occasions, and we trust that He will pull us through.” Little did he know then how the next chapter of his family’s story would play out.
14. ‘Prayers For Kaizler’
After Tony and Rachel Wood learned about Kaizler’s situation, they set up a Facebook page called “Prayers for Kaizler.” As strong believers of a higher power, they’d hoped prayers from kind souls who stumbled upon the page might help their son’s situation.
But sometimes these kinds of pages elicit more than just prayers, even when their primary purpose is to create awareness. And that awareness, perhaps coupled with some good karma, can go a long way, as you’ll soon discover. One day, a total stranger joined the page and took the initiative to an entirely different level that would involve a familiar platform.
15. Another Fated Encounter
Not long after the Prayers for Kaizler Facebook group came into fruition and started garnering attention, a total stranger on Twitter who went by the handle name ‘@illuminaughty’—a play on the word “Illuminati”—joined the group. The twitter user had a faceless profile and the account was scant on personal details that shed light on the identity of the person behind it.
Under his or her Twitter account, the stranger then took it a step further, tweeting out a link to the GoFundMe page the family had set up to help cover Kaizler’s medical expenses. But, after joining the group, the mysterious new Twitter user made a bizarre request of the Wood family.
16. Thumbs Up
It was almost as if this anonymous social media user had remembered the viral photo of the rest of the Wood children signaling a thumbs up from weeks before—and maybe he did. The mystery Twitter user requested a photo of Kaizler doing the same thing on Twitter.
And it turned out he wasn’t the only one. Others who had seen the photo requested the same thing. “So, I thanked him for his consideration and posted a picture of Kaizler giving a thumbs up,” Tony Wood said. ‘Illuminaughty’ and others in the Twitter community must have been onto something, because that’s when things really started to pick up.
17. A PR Genius?
Soon after the thumbs-up photo of Kaizler went online, the tweet really started to take off. The initial Twitter fame that came with the first thumbs-up photo of his siblings weeks ago didn’t really go to the kids’ heads. “We told the kids they were Twitter famous and, while they thought that was cool, we didn’t get a big response mostly because they don’t exactly know what Twitter is,” Tony Wood said.
This time around, though, the stakes were higher. Widespread circulation of Kaizler’s photo on Twitter would hopefully translate into more donations on GoFundMe. And indeed, that’s exactly what began to happen. “What really shocked us was the growth of our GoFundMe account,” Tony recalled.
18. Social Media For The Win
It’s not clear why – or whether there was a connection between the first thumbs-up photo that went viral or the second of Kaizler – but the latter had an astronomical effect on donations. “I remember tweeting about how the GoFundMe had received an extra $1,000! We were so excited — that $1,000 was going to be a BIG deal for us in our current situation.”
The mysterious ‘Illuminaughty’ Twitter handle had acted as a sort of PR person for the family by requesting the photo. It was unclear who exactly was behind the Twitter account or whether it had anything to do with Mandi Miller or Syd, but whoever it was, their idea was working. But the best was still yet to come.
19. Twenty-Four Hours Later
In just 24 hours after the photo was posted, the good people of the Internet had more than doubled what the Wood family had received in total during the last two years that their GoFundMe page was active. They had raised a whopping $10,000 thanks to illuminaghty’s request — which was the family’s goal.
Chemo treatments for leukemia are incredibly expensive, and it was such a blessing to Kaizler Wood and the family to have help from such kind-hearted strangers to pay the bills — not everyone is so fortunate in these situations. As grateful as they were, their story still wasn’t over.
20. When The Internet Comes Together
The Internet — especially Twitter — can be a nasty place. Social media often earns a bad reputation, accused of resembling a largely unaccountable group of locker room trash talkers or virtual dumpster divers digging to bring out the worst in human nature. But when the people of the World Wide Web do come together for good cause, they do it big.
Donations toward Kaizler Wood’s GoFundMe eventually totaled more than a whopping $60,000—far exceeding their goal of $10,000. That sum was a reflection of the generosity and sympathy people had toward Kaizler. The boy was able to read all the kind and loving words from people he had never even met! Positive energy really does matter in such situations. And you’d best believe the money was put to good use.
21. His Last Dose
It is unclear what exactly the Wood family would have had to do to afford the medical bills throughout Kaizler’s chemo treatments without the tremendous help it received from others. But in March 2019, Tony Wood updated the GoFundMe page to let the public know that Kaizler was set to take his last dose of chemo—fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be a relapse.
And it turned out the chemo treatments worked! As such, the kind souls behind the donations played a role in helping with the young boy’s treatment. The group effort hadn’t been in vain, and it has inspired hearts and souls around the world. As such, the press jumped all over the story.
22. Making The News
Media outlets across the spectrum wanted a piece of the Wood family when they learned of their fated, heartwarming tale. “I can’t even begin to tell you what this means to us, what this means for us,” Tony Wood told Love What Matters.
“We have an amazing support of friends and family. The prayers have been non-stop, people have given their time and energy to help us in whatever ways they can,” he continued. “I am humbled by the generosity and outpouring of love we have received by the people we know, and by people we’ve never even met.” He has also since shed light on his initial decision to reply to the accidental text from a stranger.
23. Societal Pressure
Since Tony Wood’s fated transition from being the man to make a stranger’s day to becoming the target of a goodwill initiative from hundreds of strangers, he has revealed some reflections on his initial decision to respond to Syd’s accidental text about her dress.
“Society puts a lot of pressure on these young women to have a certain look and a certain body build,” he told Daily Mail Australia. “We try to teach our children to be themselves and not worry about what others think… Even with that, my young daughters already express a desire to ‘fit in’ and I figured this young lady might need that reassurance.” And what is the family up to today?
24. Quitting Real Estate
When the incredible string of events began, Tony Wood was working as a newly minted real estate agent. Since then, though, he has decided to leave that profession and go back to what he described in an October 2018 Twitter post as the “multiple job life.”
Between helping Kaizler navigate his illness and raising five other kids with Rachel, it must have been difficult to manage his real estate business. But it’s unclear whether Tony is done for good — he still hasn’t changed his Twitter bio to reflect his departure from the industry. But that’s not the only update from the figures in the uplifting account. The Wood family also discovered further details about the anonymous Twitter user who, potentially inspired by the initial thumbs-up snap, requested the photo of Kaizler.
25. Who Is Illuminaughty?
Little is known about the Twitter user whose tip helped the Wood family raise cash. It is known that he has since changed his Twitter name from ‘iIlluminaughty’ simply to ‘Hedge.’ Tony Wood has since said that he has discovered the gentleman is “a kind man from India.”
It makes sense if you go on his Twitter page—most of his posts have to do with Indian politics and Indian affairs, though his profile imagery is Simpsons-themed. It still remains unclear how exactly the Twitter user who helped catalyze a deluge of donations came across the plight of Tony Wood’s family, or why he decided to help. But perhaps his Twitter bio sheds some light into his intentions. “Stop Hating Start Loving,” it reads.
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