Shanell Mouland is used to difficult flights, as her 3-year-old autistic daughter, Kate, has a hard time sitting still, but she was pleasantly surprised on a recent return flight from a family vacation to Walt Disney World. On that flight, the family sat next to a businessman who made the day special for them. The man happily put all of his work aside to spend the whole time playing with Kate and showing her pictures to keep her calm.
After the flight, Mouland decided to search for this “Daddy” who treated her daughter so kindly. Her blog post, titled “Dear ‘Daddy’ in Seat 16c 1850 From Philly,” went viral immediately and received more than 70,000 likes on Facebook. Mouland said in the post, “You could have shifted uncomfortably in your seat. You could have given her that smile that I despise because it means ‘Manage your child, please.’… 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.”
Eric Kunkel, an IT executive and married father from New Jersey, turned out to be the “Daddy in seat 16c” who was so wonderful to little Kate. He didn’t even realize the difference he had made. Kunkel shared, “I would have never expected this to happen and I didn’t, so it’s a little overwhelming at times. It makes me feel good.”
And it made the family feel good, too. Mouland shared with ABC News, “Sometimes the simplest things are such a big deal. But it’s a big deal for him to treat her like a little person.”
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