Utah man touching lives with heart rocks is hoping to deliver one to every family in Uvalde

Jun 22, 2022, 6:47 PM | Updated: 7:48 pm

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A man in Utah County is carving thousands of rocks to donate to every family in Uvalde, Texas. It’s part of his lifelong mission to bring healing to others with his rock creations.

“I found that when there’s a tragedy, there’s something I can do to help,” Tom Ballard said.

The story of Ballard’s heart rocks begins two and a half years ago. He was a Spanish language teacher in Washington when there were several deaths by suicide in his community that impacted his students.

Ballard was walking along the beach, trying to think of how he could “raise people’s spirits,” and stumbled upon a heart-shaped rock in the sand. It brought him comfort so he searched and found a handful of more rocks with a similar shape.

Then he went further and bought a tile saw to begin carving rocks. After he had enough for all his students, he brought them to class. By the end of the school day, 24 students were back in his classroom asking for more rocks because they had given away their own.

“This is to remind you that you matter, you are important, you are beautiful, and life is better because you’re a part of it,” Ballard said of his rocks.

Then something terrible happened. Ballard’s brother-in-law died by suicide, and he decided to move back to Utah to be with his sister and her three now fatherless children. And that’s when Ballard turned his heart rock passion into a lifelong mission and started Take Heart Creative Studio.

Ballard carves rocks full time now, bringing them and his message to farmer’s markets, schools, churches and other organizations in Utah and even around the country. He says it’s that message of compassion that turns his work “from a beautiful rock into a meaningful gift.”

He recalled one market where he decided to offer a man two of his heart rocks. The man chose a couple and then “ten minutes later came back and said his wife had attempted suicide the day before.” She was in the hospital and the two hearts the man had chosen had been cut from the same rock.

“I don’t believe in coincidences anymore,” Ballard said.

On another occasion a student who carried around one his rocks with her had the thought to give it to another student at school. So she did.

“The next night that student just called them weeping and said they had planned to end their life that day. And they just approached them with a heart rock and it made all the difference.”

Ballard says he is aware of seven instances where deaths by suicide were prevented because of a conversation that was prompted by his heart rocks.

“I feel like I’ve stumbled across something that’s so simple and so impactful that it’s changing the world,” he said.

When a gunman opened fire on teachers and elementary students in Uvalde, Texas, Ballard knew he wanted to help. Within a day he had raised enough money to carve enough rocks for all teachers and students at the school.

Since then he’s expanded that goal to reach every family in Uvalde. So far he’s cut nearly 1,500 rocks. And he’s asking for the public’s help to raise enough money for him to make more and then hand-deliver as many as he can in October.

“It’s just compassion. And the more I reach out and given away the better I feel about myself and my circumstances.”

Along the way, he’s discovered how the smallest, frequent reminders can go beneath the surface and have the biggest impact on someone’s heart.

“Some day you’re going to have a really dark, awful dreadful day,” Ballard said. “And when that day comes, pick up your heart rock and remind yourself that you matter and that you’re good.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Zane James...
Madison Swenson

$4 million settlement reached in officer-involved shooting of Zane James

A Utah family has reached a $4 million settlement with the city of Cottonwood Heights in relation to the shooting of their 19-year-old son by a city police officer.
1 day ago
Madison Swenson

8-year-old boy hit by car while riding scooter in Riverton

An 8-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital Friday after he was struck by a car in Riverton.
1 day ago
Mike Anderson

Study aims to balance growth, preservation around Bear Lake

Bear Lake brings nearly $50 million into the Northern Utah economy each year, all while it continues to serve as a major water source. A new study is taking a close look at those impacts on Rich County.
1 day ago
Dan Spindle, KSL TV

AAA Gas calculator shows cost for your holiday road trip

Millions of Americans are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend despite record-high gas prices.
1 day ago
Shara Park

Three moose take a dip in a North Salt Lake pool

A wild sight in North Salt Lake this week as three moose have made themselves at home in pools and on Eaglewood Golf Course.
1 day ago
Ladd Egan

SLC firefighters urge residents to obey fireworks restrictions

As we head into the holiday weekend, firefighters in Salt Lake City are urging residents to obey firework restrictions.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah man touching lives with heart rocks is hoping to deliver one to every family in Uvalde