Keagan’s Rocks spreading kindness after Davenport woman loses son to suicide

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It’s been a little more than a year since Kim Belle Isle’s life changed forever.
 
Belle Isle lost her 17-year-old son, Keagan, on April 6 2017, to suicide.
 
Now, she’s hoping a small act of kindness can save others from the pain she’s felt since she lost her only child.

The loss of Keagan made Belle Isle feel like she had lost her purpose.

“I fell into a deep depression,” she said.

But she says after some time, a friend convinced her to go on a walk, and that’s where she found something she says was a sign.

“I found this little rock that said “hello” That rock really changed everything for me,” said Belle Isle. “Just because it was something that he and I used to say to each other kind of sarcastically if the other one wasn’t listening.”
 
And soon, it was a turning point. Belle Isle left her home in Alabama, and moved to the Quad Cities with a new purpose: Keagan’s Rocks.
 
Belle Isle hand-paints rocks with colorful designs and kind messages, but it’s what’s on the back of the rocks that has people spreading kindness worldwide.
 
On the back of each rock, Belle Isle pastes a label with the information to the group’s Facebook page, and different hotlines. Some have the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, while others have eating disorder help lines, and more.
 
Once someone finds one, there is message on each one to either keep it for yourself, or re-hide it so it can help someone else.
 
Since starting the Facebook group in November, it’s gained over 700 members. It’s become a place where people post pictures of where they’ve found the rocks, painting their own, sharing stories, and even comfort strangers who have found them in their time of need.
 
While Belle Isle makes them at her Davenport home, many people have started taking them outside the Quad Cities, traveling on vacation with them all over the world, and leaving them for someone else in another country. Belle Isle says she’s received pictures of her rocks in Germany, Japan, Canada and beyond.
 
She’s even started sending labels with Canadian help hotlines to Canada, so the rocks can be helpful for people in other countries.
 
To date, there are thousands of rocks tucked away all over the world, waiting for those who are meant to find them.
 
“I don’t know, it’s like I’ve told people before, the rocks find the people,” said Belle Isle.
 
And they’ve left an impact that Belle Isle never could’ve imagined.  
 
“I don’t know it just makes me cry,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s just really unbelievable.” 
 
On Thursday, a group of strangers met for the first time after their experience with Keagan’s Rocks brought them all to Belle Isle’s dining room table.
 
Charissa King and her three children were on their way to the grocery store when they spotted something colorful along the way. What she initially thought was a toy, was much more.
 
“And I saw that it was a rock and after reading it I instantly got goosebumps,” said King.
 
Then she turned it over.
 
“We read the back, we looked it all up on Facebook and read the story and I bawled” she said.
 
And they decided to take a road trip, hoping to find the perfect hiding spot for their rock. They ended up driving an hour and a half and leaving it behind in Crawfordsville, Iowa.
 
That’s where Nicole Sieren found it during a rough day at work.
 
Sieren says when her friend and fellow co-worker was going through a hard time, she found the rock and passed it along to her.
 
“Reading it she looked up and was like ‘Wow. Other people care too?'” said Sieren. “She was just so amazed that other people are going through what she’s going through too. And it really turned a light switch on for her to know that people care, and they’re out there, and they’re listening, and she wasn’t alone.” 

 

On Thursday, Sieren, King, and King’s kids met face to face to tell their story to Local 4 News, and have their own small rock painting party with Belle Isle.

 

“I was so excited to meet the family and actually hug them today,” said Sieren.

 

“We are so blessed to be able to meet the person that we were able to pass on the rock to,” said King.

 

Here in the Quad Citians, Moline Alderman at Large, Sonia Berg, said when she found one in Rock Island, it was a teachable moment for her 6-year-old grandson.

 

“My grandson was with me and he ended up wanting to hide it and so we went down to Orange Leaf and hid it down there,” said Berg. “We explained to him about mental illness…and he said ‘no I want to hide it to have the right person find it too.'”

 

Berg says since finding the initial rock, she now tries to take some with her when she travels to leave behind wherever she goes. On Thursday Berg said she had just received a message the night before from a woman who found a rock left behind by Berg’s husband in Colorado. She told Berg she was thankful she found it, and how much she needed it.

 

At the center of all this are Belle Isle and her son, Keagan, hoping to remind people of what matters most, one stone at a time.

 

“You’re loved. That there’s hope, tomorrow is better, just keep on,” said Belle Isle. “Any little thing can help somebody, you don’t know. Just be kind.”

 

Overnight, Local 4 News received numerous messages from people who say the rocks left a lasting impact. Here are a few of those responses:

“I found one of Keagan’s rocks a few hours after having to bury my dad to unfortunately, suicide. What are the chances of that? I needed that rock that day and still have it till this day. Finding that rock meant the world to me that day! What shes does with these rocks touches people lives in so many ways.” – Jessica

“What an inspiration it was to find one of these rocks in Nebraska. I work with at risk juveniles in a treatment facility. And thought to myself ‘wow one more person out trying to help change the world.’ It made my day. After a hard nine days at work, to see the painted rock…just keep swimming.” –

Michele
 
To date, Belle Isle has painted over 800 pounds of rocks. Keagan’s Rocks has also inspired others to start their own rock painting projects to help spread the word, and Belle Isle now hosts rock painting parties to anyone who wants to join in.
 
National Eating Disorder Association helpline: 800-931-2237
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

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