Durham County

Diagnosed with ALS, he used his remaining time to pass out Krispy Kreme, help others.

This August 2014 photo shows Chris Rosati at his home in Durham. After being diagnosed with ALS, Rosati created a nonprofit and did the ‘Krispy Kreme Heist’ to help encourage acts of kindness.
This August 2014 photo shows Chris Rosati at his home in Durham. After being diagnosed with ALS, Rosati created a nonprofit and did the ‘Krispy Kreme Heist’ to help encourage acts of kindness. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Chris Rosati, known for giving away Krispy Kreme doughnuts and other acts of kindness, has died of ALS, according to media reports. He was 46 years old.

Mr. Rosati’s family said he decided Wednesday to have his ventilator removed at Duke Hospice, according to WRAL and other news organizations.

Mr. Rosati once earned The News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the Week award for his BIGG initiative, or Big Idea for the Greater Good, which was his way of encouraging people to help others. Rosati also created the nonprofit organization Inspire Media to encourage acts of kindness.

After being diagnosed with ALS — Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease — in 2010, Mr. Rosati drew headlines in December 2013 when he gave away Krispy Kreme doughnuts, also known as the “Krispy Kreme Heist.”

After his diagnosis, he spoke to students at his alma mater Durham Academy, sharing a funny dream he had long held — a desire to rob a doughnut truck and pass out the doughnuts, Robin Hood-style, to the people he passed.

He realized that to follow his own advice, he should act on his dream.

“You can’t tell 400 high school kids that you’re really happy you tried in your life, and then tell them about the Krispy Kreme thing and then not try to do it,” he said in an August 2014 article.

Krispy Kreme heard about Mr. Rosati and his proposed stunt, and joined up with him, providing a truck and doughnuts. Mr. Rosati passed out the free doughnuts at a hospital and a school.

Mr. Rosati’s ALS eventually caught up with him. The disease affects the nerve cells that make muscles work in both the upper and lower parts of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The muscles then become weak, leading to paralysis. The cause of the disease has not been determined, the CDC states.

Rosati expressed hope in an August 2014 interview that a cure could be found one day.

“I hope that when I die, people say they have to find a cure, because who knows what that guy could have done?”

Cliff Bellamy: 919-419-6744, @CliffBellamy1

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