"I was just so touched and so moved that a complete stranger remembered us...."
Kind acts come in many different forms. For some, paying it forward happens in the grand moments — a new car for a single mother, offering to help put a child through school, building an orphanage where nature has brought disaster. For others, a simple gesture of generosity can ease pain or brighten spirits for days. Each are of equal importance.
Kayla Lane of Fort Worth, Texas understands the impact of both. In June 2015, Kayla, a waitress at a local restaurant, took both to heart during a chance encounter with a couple who had recently suffered a tragic loss: While both the husband and wife were regulars at the the restaurant where Kayla worked (West Side Cafe), she noticed one afternoon that their child, who had previously accompanied them on a number of visits, was absent.
“I remember people,” Kayla told Fort Worth CBS affiliate KTVT later. “I’m really good at remembering people.”
It was Kayla’s ability to remember friendly faces and form connections with strangers that lead her to do what she did next. Upon finding out that the Shaun and Debbie Riddle’s baby girl Glory had passed away weeks earlier, Kayla decided to pay off the couple’s bill for them, leaving them a kind note in its place, that read,
“Your ticket has been paid for. We are terribly sorry for your loss. God Bless.”
“I was just shocked,” Debbie told the news outlet, explaining that Kayla had covered up her own act of kindness by humbly making it seem as if the restaurant had footed the bill. In reality, the money came from Kayla’s own pocket. When asked about Kayla’s habit of picking up people’s checks, the then 21-year-old’s manager said it wasn’t unusual.
“I feel privileged that I’m able to do it,” she told KTVT.
According to the Riddles, the small gesture meant more than Kayla could have known. “Kayla is a college student, she’s only 21, she’s putting herself through school, she owns her own home,” Debbie told ABC News in an interview that same month. “… It’s just amazing, and I was just so touched and so moved that a complete stranger remembered us and our baby, much less took money out of her own pocket – and she didn’t want any recognition.” In just a few short weeks, the story went viral, with dozens of large media outlets paying homage to Kayla’s act.
In honor of Kayla’s generosity, Random Acts finance controller David Antonelli decided to do something kind as well. “I wanted to give her a gift card to a local spa,” he wrote that month, after brainstorming ways to give the hard-working waitress some well-deserved thanks. “I’ve eaten at the West Side Cafe a few different times. It’s a great family place. Kayla definitely represents what I have come to expect from the staff.”
With Random Acts funding, David purchased Kayla a deluxe spa package in order to treat the kindhearted student and waitress to some relaxation and rest of her own. “Kayla was very humble and very appreciative of the gift,” he explained. “I spoke briefly with her father and he too was very appreciative of everything.”
Not all acts of kindness need to be big undertakings or require hours of planning. Sometimes, spur of the moment inspiration to do something good matters just as much all the grand gestures in the world — and in this case, Kayla Lane proved that and so much more.