Toddler Hugs the Pizza Delivery Man Who’d Recently Lost His Daughter

Since the pandemic, delivery workers have increased exponentially, from delivery of groceries to take out to the classic delivery: pizza. And these delivery people aren’t always appreciated or at least it’s generally not the norm for customers to thinking about delivery people’s private lives–their joys and their struggles. …at least by adults. That brings us to the beautiful story caught on camera when a toddler hugs the pizza delivery man.

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How it Happened: The Toddler Hugs the Pizza Delivery Man

The home’s front door camera caught both the sound and visual of the delivery man going to the door, handing over the pizza, and the toddler’s mother saying thank you. The audio catches the toddler saying thanking the delivery man, and then as he is walking through a gate on the porch, Cohen, the 2-year-old, runs to the man, and you see the toddler hugs the pizza delivery man.

Some say the toddler must’ve sensed something in the pizza delivery man. Whether he did isn’t known, but what we do know is that the hug meant a lot to the man, who had recently lost his own daughter. ABC news reported the mother, Lindsey Sheely, from Rhode Island, had ordered pizza on a Saturday night. Ryan Catterson, the pizza delivery man was the lucky one who got to deliver it.

At the time, Ryan was in the midst of mourning his 16-year-old daughter’s death. At the time of the delivery, Ryan was reportedly struggling greatly with the loss. That’s why Cohen’s sweet hug was so meaningful to the man, and moving to the public that sent the clip into viral mode. When the toddler hugs the pizza delivery man, Ryan, he hugged the toddler right back. Naturally, Lindsey didn’t expect her toddler to run out like that. They didn’t know Ryan or anything about his situation.

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That’s why Lindsey ran out after her son, in an attempt to stop him. But then she saw the toddler hug the pizza delivery man. It was this event that sparked a conversation. Ryan shared what the hug meant to him. He said it meant more than any size tip he could’ve gotten.

“After losing my daughter this past week, it touched me because it was like she was there,” Ryan explained. “It really just meant a lot to me. It’s going to be tough not going to be able to hug her again,” speaking of his daughter, Alyssa. Ryan said he would treasure the moment on that video when the toddler hugs the pizza delivery man–that’s him because of how it made him feel closer to his own daughter.

Lindsey shared the video on social media, and of course it went viral.

Alyssa’s Mother’s Response

Ryan’s ex-wife, Danielle McCord, was also moved by the interaction, and she shared a news report that included the video on Facebook. She said, It took hours to even allow myself to watch this.” She explained that she had been reluctant to share the clip because she and her family are very private and also because it wasn’t her moment. Regardless, after a lot of contemplation, she decided to share the sweet moment with her friends and family on Facebook.

Danielle said, “I’ve been more open during this process than ever in my life because…honestly the support of everyone, even complete strangers, has helped us all so much.”

She explained that it took a lot for her to even bring herself to watch the video, let alone share it. But eventually, she hoped the video might touch others and she thanked Lindsey Sheely for being so supportive of her family. She said, “Again, I give my thanks to Lindsey Sheely for being so supportive of us. We’re total strangers, but you’d never know that based on the love and support she’s given.”

The toddler who hugs the pizza man had no idea how he would touch not only Ryan himself, but also Danielle and many others who watched the video. As Danielle reflected on the moment, she said, “It’s so easy to miss people and their internal pain. Even with our daughter, we didn’t know her pain. I can’t help but be grateful that someone saw his pain and could be there for him.”

Although it’s been nearly two years since this event, the family had a GoFundMe set up, and $31,012 was raised to help pay for Alyssa’s service and her family’s travel expenses in connection with her death. There were more than 100 donations to the fund for Alyssa, who had reportedly had mental health issues.

Let’s Take a Cue From the Toddler

The moral of the story: don’t forget that everyone you come across probably has worries and struggles. We don’t know if they are struggling with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. In the wake of the pandemic, these have hit the world hard, which is evidenced by counselors and counseling centers all over being inundated with calls. But community kindness can have an impact. When we all slow down and remember that every other person we meet is an image-bearer, we can shine God’s light into a dark world. Extending kindness like that little toddler who hugs the pizza delivery man can make a world of difference!

After the moment caught on camera when that toddler hugs the pizza delivery man, Ryan Catterson, he received lots more love and support for what he was going through. Ryan said, “”A lot of people are commenting that may have been her looking out for me. Those words mean something. Maybe she’s there.”

Who can you reach out to today? Or how can you share Jesus’ light with a stranger during your everyday tasks? Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” So let’s take our cue from Cohen. Perhaps just giving a smile or avoiding showing impatience could make all the difference to someone. Comment below, if you have ideas on what you might do, or an experience where you saw someone moved by kindness. Better yet, if you were someone moved by kindness share your special story here!

Jessica Goldsmith
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Jessica Goldsmith is a writer and editor of Christian resource, news, and information.