DURHAM — In a speech a few weeks ago at Durham Academy, his high-school alma mater, Chris Rosati told students about a sweet dream of his.
He wanted to hijack a Krispy Kreme doughnut delivery truck and, with the cops chasing him, drive around tossing out free confections and cheer. Robin Hood, with baked goods.
The normally jaded teens embraced the idea with such enthusiasm that Rosati – already inclined to mischief – became determined to make it happen.
But every successful dreamer is also a realist, and Rosati knew his chances of getting away with a loaded doughnut truck were pretty slim, especially since he was diagnosed three years ago with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He can still walk, with assistance, but the degenerative neuromuscular disorder, which is ultimately fatal, has slowed him down.
He would need some help.
Rosati, a self-employed marketing consultant, knew what to do. He set up a Facebook page called A Krispy Kreme Heist, where he described his plan. He solicited “likes,” in the hopes that eventually, Winston-Salem-based Krispy Kreme would hear about it, lend him a truck and driver, and give him some doughnuts to give away.
Since he got sick, he explained, “I’m more open than ever to chasing my dreams ... even odd ones like this.”
His story traveled like the scent of Original Glazed hot off the line. Within eight hours, Krispy Kreme corporate officials heard about Rosati’s idea.
“We got in touch with Chris and told him, ‘Don’t steal one of our trucks,’” said Megan Brock, directer of marketing. “We’ll give you the Krispy Kreme Cruiser and a thousand doughnuts.”
The Cruiser is a 1960 Flexible Starliner bus restored and christened last year for the company’s 75th anniversary. Krispy Kreme likes to say it’s one sweet ride that travels the country for promotional events.
Tuesday, its route was chosen by Rosati, who had the driver go to Duke University Medical Center, where he visited a cancer treatment center, a bone marrow transplant facility and the clinic where he gets treatment for his ALS.
After that, it was on to Durham Academy, where 400 high-schoolers had been assembled on the sidewalk without knowing why.
They figured it out when the Cruiser rolled into the parking lot, with its trademark green polka dots and Krispy Kreme bow-tie logo. They screamed and hooted.
“I told y’all to live out your dreams, as dumb as they may be sometimes,” he told the students as he got off the bus.
They would each get a doughnut, he promised, but then he asked a favor. Would some of them take a box, go out into the community and give them away just to see people smile?
“You get 12 chances in that box to make somebody happy,” he said.
Rosati’s wife, Anna, said the couple would use video of the day’s events to inspire others toward random acts of kindness through Rosati’s nonprofit, called Inspire MEdia. Eventually, Anna Rosati said, the couple hope the foundation will be able to help people fund their own uplifting projects.