Jason Bartlett made it a habit to make a stranger's day.
Bartlett would often pay for the other cars in the drive-thru, or leave a large tip for a waitress for no reason other than to brighten her day.
“He was always just really happy and really easy going guy,” Dan Schuart said. “He just wanted to spread the love to others.”
Bartlett's final act did just that.
On a hot August day in 2003, Bartlett, 29, was near the loading ramp at Lake Eufaula during the Southern Plains Festival for wakeboarding; a tournament Bartlett and his older brother, Jeff, started together in 1999.
Schuart, Bartlett's stepdad, called him on the phone to warn him that he was seeing lighting in the area and that he needed to get out of the water.
“Just a hot day with a clear blue sky,” Schuart said. “I saw lighting striking and called him to warn him. He was struck about 10 minutes later.”
Bartlett was killed instantly, leaving behind a wife and a 4-year-old child.
In one final act of kindness, Bartlett, who had always advocated to friends and family to become an organ donor, became one himself.
“I think it was four people,” Schuart said. “Four people who had their lives changed. When he would leave big tips or pay for things for others he never wanted them to know. So in a way it's fitting. Just a stranger helping out another stranger.”
In remembrance of the 10 years that have passed since Bartlett's death, his family will be at the wakeboarding festival this year to hand out information about becoming an organ donor through the Lifeshare program, a group that educates and encourages organ and tissue donations.
The tournament has become one of the state's largest wakeboarding competitions, three days of competitors performing flips, spins and other acrobatic moves on the water.
Bartlett, who was the second oldest in a large family, was admired and looked up to by his 11 other cousins.
Schuart said the family tries to use the tournament as a way of celebrating Jason's life.
“I still get emotional about it at this time of year,” Schuart said. “The whole family is still pretty emotional about it. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. It's hard to believe the emotions are still so raw.”
There will be a raffle about 6 p.m. Friday at the HooK'D Marina Bar & Grill in the Eufaula Cove in honor of Bartlett and to help promote Lifeshare.
“It's a celebration and that's because of the nature of Jason,” Schuart said. “We miss him like crazy, but it's pretty special we have this to remember him.”