Yuanyuan Wang was the most amazing person I’d ever met. She brightened a room with her compassionate, curious, playful energy. She was brilliant, clever, and beautiful. Beyond that, she was my wife for a few magical months. My name is Leon Feingold, and this is our story.
I met Yuanyuan in Shanghai in 2012 - she was a stranger I met through the CouchSurfing app, who let me stay on her couch for one night. When she came to NYC a few months later, I returned the favor and put her up for a few weeks. By 2015 we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and in October 2016, I proposed. Our Facebook post with her wearing my ring got over 1500 likes!
Less than a week later, and completely unexpectedly, Yuan was diagnosed with terminal metastatic cancer. She had only a few months to live.
We were devastated. But something wonderful happened. Within a week of our announcing her diagnosis, friends and strangers alike had joined forces to offer us help: raised thousands of dollars for her medical care, leveraged personal contacts to get her into a top cancer program at Memorial Sloan Kettering, contacted their Senators and Congresspeople to streamline Yuan’s family to fly in from China within days, made all the arrangements (in less than seven days!) to throw a wedding for us and nearly 300 guests, and ensured that we were cared for in this difficult time.
On our wedding day in November 2016, Yuan and I exchanged vows, then vowed to our guests we would find a way to give back to others, as others had given to us. That was the birth of our spiritual and philosophical practice of Altruism, based on the idea that doing good for others is its own reward.
Yuanyuan passed away in March 2017 at the age of 39. Those of us who knew and loved her, alongside those who believe in the power of Altruism, are carrying on her legacy with an ever-growing team of Altruists. We’re planning and carrying out charity events like clothing collection and distribution, blood drives, neighborhood beautification, community education, and anything else we can to show people the power they have within themselves to make amazing things happen through Altruism.