A simple act of kindness has made a man a viral hit after the mother of girl with autism praised him for the care he showed her daughter on a flight from Orlando to Philadelphia that could have gone much differently.
The girl's mother, Shanell Mouland, posted a thank you on the family's blog Go Team Kate on Jan. 9 titled "Dear 'Daddy' in Seat 16C Flight 1850 From Philly" to the man who sat next to her 3-year-old daughter on the two-hour flight, keeping up a conversation with the girl the entire time.
Mouland wrote that the man, whose last name she did not know at the time, was kind to let her daughter Kate call him "daddy" for the entire flight and he "kindly never corrected her."
She went on to say after voicing her concerns about who may sit next to her daughter the man not only was kind but expressed great interest in talking with Kate.
"You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have ignored her. You could have given me that 'smile' that I despise because it means; 'manage your child please,'" Mouland blogged. "You did none of that. You engaged Kate in conversation and you asked her questions about her turtles. She could never really answer your questions but she was so enamored by you that she kept eye contact and joint attention on the items you were asking her about. I watched and smiled. I made a few polite offers to distract her, but you would have none of it."
After Mouland's blog post went viral, the kind stranger in seat 16C was identified as New Jersey IT consultant Eric Kunkel. He has told reporters that he simply asked the girl if she went to Disney and how it was, and the conversation took off from there.
And if all of that was not enough to soften a heart or bring tears to readers' eyes, at the end of the note, Mouland wrote, "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."
Click here to read the entire blog post thanking Kunkel.
Since the post received immediate feedback and clicks, the Mouland's story has been spread across the world. On their Facebook page, they have posted about all of the interviews they're doing about the kindness Kunkel showed Kate.
According to the family's blog, Kate is a pretty awesome 3-year-old who is Buzz Light Year's biggest fan and is the "most sincere, loving, adorable and incredible little sister in the world."
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