BRISTOL, Wisc.—Seth Bayles has an autoimmune disease so rare that he’s the only person in the U.S. known to have it. But that’s far down the list of things that make him unique and extraordinary.
Bayles, 14, is the son of Don and Julie Bayles, owners of Benson Corners and U-Haul Dealership. His treatments for the disease include frequent trips to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., more than 300 miles away. That means frequent stays for him and his family at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Rochester, so much so that it’s become a home-away-from-home for them.
“It’s a place for us to stay when I go for treatment at Mayo Clinic,” Seth noted. “It’s not like a hotel; it’s better. They treat you like a king!”
After getting so much from the RMH, Seth wanted to do something to give back. So he decided to start collecting pop can tabs to donate to the RMH, which earns money from recycling the tabs. Neither Seth nor his family could have imagined the response that followed. Students and parents at Seth’s school heard about his efforts and wanted to help, so Julie sent 700 Ziploc bags to the school, which sent them home with students.
“We got back buckets filled with pop tabs!” Julie exclaimed. “Once Seth started seeing them come in, he realized the difference he was making.”
Local newspapers and TV stations took notice of Seth’s efforts, and word spread like wildfire. Soon, Don and Julie were getting calls from the post office saying there were a lot of boxes arriving that wouldn’t fit in their post office box.
“They were coming from complete strangers,” Julie mentioned. “One man we’d never met wrote a letter that said he’d been collecting pop tabs for 15 years and was waiting for the right person or cause to donate them to. He decided to give them to Seth.”
Within a few months, Seth had collected enough pop tabs to fill a U-Haul trailer. In June, Julie and Seth made the trip to Rochester to deliver them to the RMH. The pop tab collections didn’t end there, though. In the months that followed the initial delivery in June, Seth collected a lot more. He and his mom made three trips to the RMH in October, and each time they dropped off an SUV full of pop tabs.
“I could not have imagined having that many pop tabs,” Seth declared. “It’s amazing that people heard about me and then wanted to collect them.”
Seth’s selfless attitude has earned him quite a bit of praise, along with several accolades. He’s been named Junior Outstanding Citizen for the town of Bristol, an award that allowed him to ride in a local parade, and people around town call him “Pop Tab Seth.” Allow us to add another name for him: Amazing!
To learn more about Seth and his condition, watch the video below or visit his Facebook page.
To learn more about the RMH, go to RMHC.org.