2-Year-Old Boy Gives Pizza Delivery Driver A Hug Without Knowing His Daughter Had Just Passed Away
Feb 19, 2021 by apost team
Young children often know the fastest way to your heart. They seem to know how to cut through the small talk, quickly get to the point and let you know how they feel. One sweet 2-year-old boy named Cohen did just that in this story out of West Warwick, Rhode Island, from February 2020 that’s likely to melt even the coldest of hearts.
Our story begins with Cole Catterson, a pizza delivery man who had just experienced a heartbreaking loss that no man should have to endure. Catterson’s 16-year-old daughter, Alyssa, had unexpectedly passed away in early 2020. He would never be able to watch her grow into an adult and was still struggling with his unbearable loss.
After his funeral leave was over, Catterson had to resume his job as a pizza delivery man at Wicked Good Pizza. People were as likely as friendly as they are to someone holding their next meal, but no one knew the secret pain in his heart as he went through the motions of his delivery routine. One of his calls was to Lindsey Sheely's West Warwick home, however.
Through the years, Catterson has likely seen it all as he’s delivered pizza to a wide range of homes and businesses. But nothing in all his years of delivering could have prepared him for the individual he was about to confront. As his professional role dictated, Catterson walked up to the front door with the pizza in hand and rang the doorbell, as you’ll see in the video below.
Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-)
When this West Warwick front door opened, Catterson was simply prepared to check another delivery off his list. Instead, he got ambushed by Sheely's 2-year-old son, Cohen, who was on a mission of love. As the toddler embraced him in a big hug — even trying to throw in a kiss on top of the spontaneous embrace — Catterson seems to feel comforted in the video. From the short video clip, you might think that Sheely or her son knew Catterson, that they had heard about his daughter’s passing. But that’s what makes this story even more remarkable: neither Sheely nor her son knew anything of Catterson’s recent loss.
"As Ryan was walking away, my son just bolted past me, ran out the door, and put his arms up, and just gave Ryan a big hug," Sheely explained in her February 2020 interview WJAR. "Ryan just leaned into it, was really cute, really sweet. My son even tried to give him a kiss."
Sheely, who captured the video on a doorbell security camera, shared the clip on social media — and eventually, it got back to Catterson.
"Someone saw that I posted it, and told Ryan about it, who reached out to me," Sheely told WJAR. "He's like, 'I think I was your pizza man would you mind if I shared that?'"
The two Rhode Island residents later connected over social media, and Sheely found out about Catterson’s daughter. Given the circumstances, Sheely later said that Cohen’s impromptu hug was a “blessing from God,” according to ABC 7’s February 2020 coverage.
"I believe in divine appointments and know that Ryan was the one to deliver our pizza for a reason," Sheely added on Facebook, according to ABC 7.
In an interview with ABC, Catterson said that Cohen’s spontaneous gesture of kindness “touched” and “really just meant a lot” to him, especially in light of his daughter’s death. “... It was like she was there,” Cohen explained.
"Just that it was the perfect timing for it, I had been telling my kids and the whole family how much I needed hugs before they came and then that sweet little boy gave me one," Catterson added in his interview with WJAR. "It was almost as if the universe or my daughter had known and sent it to me."
Commenters on YouTube agreed. “That was his little girl reaching out through the boy to hug her daddy,” a user by the name of Jennifer wrote in the comments.
In the time since Sheely connected with the pizza delivery driver in need over social media, Kara Tibbetts and Catterson set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his daughter’s funeral expenses and travel costs for family members attending the funeral. While the fundraiser is no longer accepting donations, strangers from around the country have donated more than $31,000 since the fundraiser’s creation on Feb. 11, 2020.
Were it not for Cohen’s random gesture of kindness, Catterson and his story likely would not have received the recognition that it deserves — not to mention the numerous donations that followed the heartwarming video’s spread across the internet.
"If I had been afraid to let Cohen run out the door because we don’t know this man, and that's the world we live in, then we would've missed out on this entire touching moment that truly impacted not just Ryan's life but his entire family and mine," Sheely told WJAR.
Cohen and Catterson’s story also speaks to the importance of hugs, which, according to Harvard Health Online’s coverage of a popular 2014 study, have measurable health benefits. The University of North Carolina study found that hugging was linked to high oxytocin levels, which in turn seems to be correlated with lower blood pressure and heart rates. The upshot? Thanks to oxytocin, which is a stress-relieving hormone produced in the pituitary gland, hugs might make you healthier. That might be why hugs were once called “the universal medicine.”
“Because high blood pressure is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease, these findings may help explain why people with emotional support from a spouse or partner are less likely to die from heart disease,” Harvard Health Online concludes. “The investigators propose further research on warm touch and the influence of oxytocin in parent-infant bonding and other close, long-term relationships.”
So if we all take a lesson from Cohen’s tender gesture, it’s that random acts of kindness (especially hugs) — no matter how small — let people know we care about them. In fact, they can be so powerful as to change our brain chemistry. And in special cases like this one, a single hug can lead to an outpouring of community support for a stranger in need.
Few things are as strong as the unconditional love of a 2-year-old. What do you think of Cohen’s display of affection amid Catterson’s grief? Perhaps you’ve experienced this kind of unexpected love from a child. Let us know, and pass this touching story on to friends and family members to remind them of the importance of random acts of kindness.