November 12th, 2010
03:53 PM ET

iReport #BeAHero challenge: Be kind to a stranger

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at

A few hours ago, iReporter Miguel Rezende in Lisbon, Portugal, sent us a touching story today about a local man who spent hours each day on one of the biggest avenues in Lisbon, smiling and waving goodbye to people passing by on foot or by car.

In the beginning, people thought he was "not lucid," Rezende said. But they came to know him as just a shy, lonely man, looking for companionship. (You can see him in action and talking about his life in a short documentary that local film students made a few years ago, with English subtitles.)

João Manuel Serra, or “Senhor do Adeus” as he was known, died on Wednesday at the age of 80, after at least 15 years of waving to people. The local evening news did a story about him, and in his tribute, on Thursday, hundreds of fans went to the spot where he usually stood, Rezende said. They also created a Facebook page for him that has nearly 13,000 fans.

"It was very emotional to see so many people missing him," Rezende said. "This person made a lot of people happy when he was there."

We've been offering tiny "Be A Hero" challenges that you can do to make the world a little better.

For the next one, take a page from Mr. Serra’s life and reach out to a stranger. Wave, smile, say hello, or strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met. Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below, or on iReport.

"Maybe if we would do that more often, we would surprise ourselves to find that the stranger is actually a very nice person," Rezende said.

Filed under: #BeaHero • TV-CNN Heroes
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. John

    Please don't start a conversation with me if you don't know me. Typically I'm thinking about something somewhat complex, and I don't want to be bothered by mundane chit chat.

    November 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Hey John,
      Hows it going? Nice weather we've been having lately eh? Hows the kids? Any thing random and mundane on your mind?

      November 12, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Riight, John. You don't want to be bothered by "mundane chit chat" yet you spend your time posting to social news sites.

      Very funny!

      November 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindi

      Hey John, I've been looking for people like you to talk with. Share with us some of those complex ideas. I am hungry to hear them. Or if you need me to start the conversation. "How about that Tesla guy. What have you been reading lately." Not many can really converse in this day and age about the more interesting subjects.

      November 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      I'll take that as a cry for help and companionship lol. It's ok, we're here for you 😉

      November 14, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kana

    There used to be a man along Rt 6A in Cape Cod that would wave to people as they passed by.

    November 12, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim Bob

    Here in Cleveland if you say "hello" to a stranger they call the police.

    November 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathi

      OMG Thanks for the laugh outburst!!!

      November 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Browns fan

      Ha ha – ditto!

      November 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kathi

    My son just returned from a vacation in Moscow Russia, he was amazed at how no one would look at anyone while walking around. When he finally caught the eye of someone, he smiled at them and said hello, this person bubbled over with smiles and conversation then. I guess it all depends how you were raised and in what country. The Russians are pretty uptight even though they are no longer communists. That's just how they were brought up.

    November 12, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lisa

    What a refreshing story! I believe smiling and saying Hello to someone can really make their day, unless you are JOHN and think that you are important, which most likely you are not.

    November 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. V Saxena

    I love it. I'm shy so it's hard for me to smile at people (even those I know), so when people smile at me, it makes my day. I do always though try to at least whisper 'How you doing?' and nod my head.

    November 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. V Saxena

    Mind you, Ladies don't smile too hard at me... because I will surely take it the wrong way, LOL.

    "OMG... SHE LOVES ME!!!"

    November 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fuyuko

    I often simply say hi, to people I encounter when I'm out walking or exercising. Only about half will say Hi back. The rest totally ignore me. So I am kind to strangers. Alas, many prefer I not greet them.

    November 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anne

    I live in a Great Lake beach community. It isn't uncommon to meet visitors walking along the beach & out on our pier. One day recently, I got to chatting with a lady from mid-Canada who was interested in the lighthouse on the opposite pier. We walked all the way out and back on the pier together. It was delightfully fun. She went her way, I went mine when we got back to the beach & I finished my walk.

    Before I got to my car to drive home later, a couple of beautiful young ladies from a nearby university asked me to take their photo, showing the Lake & piers behind them, with their camera, which I gladly did. We exchanged pleasantries and I learned that they were from Brazil.

    So there you have it – I was a local ambassador to 3 people from 2 different countries in a short 30-min. beachfront walk. It was one of the best walks I have had . . . and I hope these 3 people will remember my town fondly because of it.

    November 12, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lisa

    Love -IS- all you need

    November 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. M

    I generally avoid contact with strangers. I really don't want or need any more "friends" thank you.

    November 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tTaylor


    November 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yall

    m you don't need more friends but you can be nice anyway

    November 13, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. cesar

    @John. So how's the weather?

    November 13, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gail

    Oh yes, and JOHN: your comment had to be one of the funniest I have ever read in any of these posts!

    November 13, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
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