What would you do if you thought you had a baby crying in an unusual place? Would you walk on by or go to investigate? If this passer-by hadn’t alerted the emergency services after they heard this baby crying in a storm drain, things may have been very different.
A Crying Baby
Residents in Durban, South Africa, began to grow worried when they thought they could hear a baby crying in a local storm drain. One of these residents knew they had to do something, so they decided to climb down into the concrete storm drain. What they saw was nothing short of extraordinary – and deeply worrying… There was a newborn baby in there.
As soon as the residents realized that they hadn’t been imagining the crying, the emergency services were called to try and rescue the newborn baby. Rescue Care Paramedics rushed to the scene, but there was a problem. This storm drain was pure concrete and was going to take some hard work to get into. Several groups of emergency service workers had to pull together and do everything they could to rescue this baby.
Four Hours Later
After hours of digging up the area, then attacking the concrete with a hammer and chisel, the newborn baby girl was finally rescued. The residents were shocked and elated, as they whooped and cheered the hard work of the emergency services. Immediately, the little girl was rushed to the hospital so that doctors could do everything they could for the newborn baby.
A Full Recovery
Amazingly, this newborn baby girl had just minor injuries and was suffering from hypothermia. Despite being meters underground and only around one to three days old, this miracle baby had survived her ordeal. Residents nicknamed her Sibanisethu (Our Ray of Light) and Gabriella, as no one could quite believe that she had pulled through.
Police are now investigating how this could have happened, but the residents are just happy that their ray of light had made a full recovery.
When this mom put her son with special needs alone on the plane, she didn’t know what to expect. Carrying a $10 note, she also gave him a letter which she hoped the stranger next to him would read.
Act Of Kindness
When Alexa Bjornson’s son was about to board his first flight by himself, she gave him a $10 bill and a note and told him to give it to the person he happens to sit next to on the plane. She never could have expected the complete stranger would do this…
Going The Distance
It all began earlier in June, 2019, when Alexa’s son, Landon, was scheduled to take a flight to visit his father in Portland, Oregon. Seven-year-old Landon lives with his mother in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a long distance away, but airplanes mean the journey of 1,000 miles takes just over two hours. Although you might think Alexa was overreacting, there was a good reason why she was nervous…
First Flight Alone
The first flight a parent sends his or her child on alone is daunting. There are a lot of adult things a child can and will deal with in the airport. What is a young child supposed to do if, for example, the flight is delayed or canceled? Luckily, most flight attendants would be more than happy to patiently help a child, but that child needs to bring attention to himself. It’s a lot of responsibility to put on someone so young.
This responsibility is so important to impart on a child because it’s so easy to get lost in an airport. When Landon was asked later by the local media how he felt ahead of the flight to see his father in Portland, he admitted being “nervous.” He had gone over everything with his mother a hundred times to make sure he knew exactly what to do in an uncertain situation. Although he was nerve-wracked from so much responsibility at such a young age, his mother was even more worried.
You can imagine how worried a mother would be to send her son on a plane by himself, even if the plane ride is only for a couple of hours. She could only do so much to prepare her child for the flight. Granted, she had gone over everything that would happen from the moment she let his hand go to the moment Landon’s father would pick him up from the airport. But a lot of factors were still completely out of her control.
Quite A Burden
The last thing she wanted was for her son to be a nuisance on the flight. He was only seven and people usually have patience for little kids, but flights can bring out the worst in people. It’s a grown-up’s world and little Landon was going to be all by himself. If he needed anything at all during the flight, he (and, by extension, his mother) would have to rely on the understanding and generosity of strangers. But there was one thing in particular that made Alexa worry about Landon…
He Has Autism
Landon has autism, which is actually a broad spectrum of different mental disorders that affects about one in 60 children. People on the autism spectrum often have difficulty with social interactions, reading social cues, and communicating. Oftentimes, those with autism will not correctly read a social situation, while their own behavior and response to social stimuli can easily be misunderstood by those unaware of the person’s condition. It was Alexa’s worry that the person sitting next to Landon wouldn’t know how to deal with him.
Particularly because the plane was small, there was a fairly high chance the plane would encounter some turbulence on the way to Portland. The vast majority of the time, nothing happens that jeopardizes the lives of the passengers, yet turbulence can certainly make it feel as if the plane is starting to fall out of the sky. She couldn’t bear the thought of what would happen should Landon get overwhelmed and those around him not know how to deal with him and keep him calm.
Besides turbulence, there was a slew of unforeseen issues that Alexa had running through her brain. Each of these scenarios was worse than the last. What would Landon do if, just for the sake of the argument, he needed to put on an oxygen mask? Would he keep his cool, or would the pressure overwhelm him? The person next to Landon would have to be patient and help him. But Alexa knew the biggest issue wouldn’t likely be putting on an oxygen mask.
“Are We There Yet?”
One thing Alexa foresaw being an issue was her son pestering those around him with annoying questions, such as, “Are we there yet?” She knew, also, that most people are good and just want to help out. This is especially true if the person is aware of an issue, and even more true if the person will be rewarded for his efforts. With this in mind, Alexa hatched a plan to get help for her son while he would be alone on the plane…
To My Neighbor, From My Mom
The last thing Alexa did before she let Landon go was make sure he held on to a note she wrote. “To: My Neighbor,” it said. “From: My Mom.” In addition to the letter, Alexa attached $10, in the hopes that the person sitting next to Landon would read it and at least make an effort to make sure Landon was doing ok on the flight. But did it work?
Luckily for Alexa, Landon ended up sitting next to Ben Pedraza, who does business in both Texas and Oregon. Landon would have likely been fine with most people sitting next to him, yet fate had Pedraza also heading up to Portland that day from Las Vegas. Little did any of them know that their little plane ride would change their lives and grab the attention of people around the world. People needing an inspirational story to lift them up found it that day in late June…
Alexa was on the edge of her seat the entire plane ride. She kept on looking at the clock anxiously, waiting for when she knew her son was supposed to land. Suddenly, she received a text message from a stranger, along with a selfie of someone on the plane sitting next to her son. What followed was one of the sweetest messages she had ever received from a complete stranger, though he was no stranger by this time to Landon.
Hitting It Off
Alexa was surprised to read in the message that not only had the flight gone smoothly, but that Landon had hit it off with his airplane neighbor. Instead of a situation she feared, like her son being admonished by the flight attendants for bothering other passengers, Alexa realized that what unfolded after she let go of her son’s hand at the airport was about as positive of an experience as she could have imagined for little Landon…
Keeping Him Entertained
When Ben opened up the letter and read what Alexa had written to him, he was touched. Landon has “high functioning autism,” Alexa explained, “which means he is very smart and loving, but he tends to get emotional when he is scared and can get hyper.” All she asked was for Ben to be understanding and help him get comfortable. But Ben knew exactly what to do, and Alexa couldn’t have asked for a better seating buddy for her little boy…
In no time, the pair was laughing as Ben told some of his best jokes. Only thing is, after a while, Pedraza recalled, Landon asked him to stop making dad jokes! Landon knew he was going to get enough of them with his own father when he finally arrived in Portland. For the two hours it took to get there, Landon figured there were plenty of other things to do with his new friend besides listen to recycled old jokes…
Speaking to a local Las Vegas news station, Pedraza said that the flight was full of non-stop activity with the boy. At the very end, he snapped a selfie with the sweet kid and wrote Alexa a message to assuage her fears. As for whether Landon asked about when they’d be arriving, Ben admitted that he did several times, but was “a great travel buddy” nonetheless. Their flight was full of laughs and games. “He’s a great kid and you’re a lucky mom,” he wrote her.
When she received the message from the complete stranger, she knew that her son was safe. She told local news that her heart dropped when she saw the picture. She was so moved by the generosity of this random man that she wrote a post on Facebook. “I am so grateful to this individual, and that there are still kind people in the world who make a difference like I try myself to do as well,” Alexa wrote. But what about the $10?
Donating In His Honor
“I appreciate the $10,” Ben wrote, “but it wasn’t necessary. I donated it to the Autism Society in honor of Landon.” This worthy organization works to raise awareness about the condition and shed light on the day-to-day issues people with autism face. As the post went viral, Ben’s actions served to promote donating to this cause and improving the lives of those with autism. Much more important than the money, though, was friendliness and humanity. There was only one more thing people wanted to know…
Is He Single?
As it turns out, many women were impressed by Ben’s character and were curious to see if he was looking for a partner. So many, in fact, that Ben was asked about his relationship status when he was getting interviewed for the local TV news. Not only was he a good-looking guy, he was also a guy who was doing good for the world. “There are ladies who are swooning over you on the internet, asking if you’re single,” the local news reporter told Ben.
Off The Market
When Ben heard the implied question, he chuckled a bit before responding: “I’m off the market for sure, definitely, but I’m flattered.” Ben accepted the compliment, but wanted to make sure that people knew what the real point of the story is. As nice as it is to hear women are attracted to you, even if you are already taken by another, Pedraza wanted the focus to remain on Landon and the struggles he and other autistic kids face.
Indeed, that’s when this story really took off. Shortly after sharing how a complete stranger went above and beyond in showing kindness and compassion to her son, Alexa was shocked to find out that it had been reposted and shared so many times. She realized how moved people were to see the thank you note she wrote to a complete stranger. Media outlets from all over soon started reporting on the incident, and Alexa found herself basking in her 15 minutes of fame.
Where The Attention Should Go
After realizing that his newfound friendship with Landon could be a rallying call for others to help out with kids with autism and others with special needs, Ben used the media attention now focused on him for the greater good. “I’d like to challenge readers to also donate to autism organizations or bullying-awareness organizations,” Pedraza told Fox News. “Landon mentioned he was sometimes bullied, and although we had fun, that was a sad moment for me. I could tell it was for him too.”