Shanell Mouland is a 36-year-old mother from New Brunswick, Canada. She and her family were flying back home from a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. On a connecting flight, she and her daughter Kate were assigned seats separate from her husband and other daughter. Mouland was nervous about who would take the seat next to Kate because the adorable 3-year-old has autism and flights can be a challenge. When a man wearing a business suit sat next to Kate, Mouland worried that it was going to be a very uncomfortable trip. In an interview with Huffington Post she said: "Getting on a plane when your child has autism, it takes a lot of courage and preparation." She envisioned Kate spilling liquid all over man's important papers, but what happened is the kind of thing that warms your heart and restores your faith in human kindness.
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This man in a suit that sat next to Kate, was amazing and warm. He was not bothered by Kate, but instead engaged her and talked to her. He let her call him "Daddy" without correcting her. Even when Mouland offered to give him an out on more than one occasion, he chose to keep interacting with Kate and because of his kindness and patience, Kate had one of best plane rides thus far.
Moved by the stranger's kindness, Mouland wrote an open letter to him on her blog Go Team Kate. The letter she wrote, entitled, "Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly" has touched many and has been shared far and wide. It is a beautiful letter that I recommend you read in its entirety, but I want to share the closing with you because to me it sums up exactly what this kind stranger did for this mother and child.
So, thank you. Thank you for not making me repeat those awful apologetic sentences that I so often say in public. Thank you for entertaining Kate so much that she had her most successful plane ride, yet. And thank you for putting your papers away and playing turtles with our girl.
Oh and this story has another lovely part to it. The stranger is no longer a stranger. The letter managed to find its way to the "Daddy" in seat 16C and now the family is in touch with "Daddy" from the plane. So nice!
Image via GoTeamKate/Facebook