SUDBURY -- Random acts of kindness in memory of a young man who lost his life were felt across the community in Sudbury on Tuesday.

Stephane Blais was just 17 when he passed away.

“He was pushing on a tree while my husband was cutting the tree and the tractor he was on started to flip over and instead of staying in the tractor or jumping on the opposite side, he jumped out of the tractor and it landed on him,” said Francine Blais, Stephane’s mother.

May 18 brings a lot of emotions for the Blais family, as it marks the anniversary of his passing. This year, the family decided to do what they could to make the day all about joy and positivity.

“This year I just decided we need to bring happiness and kindness throughout the world right now," said Blais. "The past year has been hard on everybody. So a couple months ago I came up with the idea of doing a random act of kindness in honour of Stephane which would be something he would be so happy about doing.”

Free popsicles

The family partnered with a new business in Chelmsford, Papaya Pops, to cover the cost of more than 700 free popsicles to be handed out to the community.

“I think at first a lot of (people) were like, 'what do you mean I can get these for free? That’s so beautiful.' And people seem to really be encouraged to do the same thing,” said Papaya Pops owner Roxanne Langemann.

What was supposed to only be one day of random acts of kindness will continue on for days -- maybe even weeks to come -- as people who received free popsicles continue to pay it forward. They include cups of coffee, flower deliveries, picking up garbage to planting flowers for others.

The Blais family has done other fundraising in the past in their son's honour, including mud runs that have raised thousands of dollars in support of the Brain Injury Association.

They plan to continue an annual act of kindness day even after the pandemic ends.