When one customer asked to speak to the manager at a Whitey’s Ice Cream store about a new member of staff, boss Rhonda VanDyke immediately felt nervous.
“You never know, when someone asks for a manager, if it’s going to be good or bad,” VanDyke, who manages the store in Moline, Illinois, told KWQC.
But instead of stopping by to complain, Van Dyke was shocked to hear the female customer walked in just to express her gratitude to 16-year-old Brenden McGee.
After noticing she'd been crying, McGee had comforted the woman.
“A lady came through the drive-thru,” McGee explained. “She was pretty upset. She was crying."
Because she was sobbing, it took McGee a few seconds to understand the woman was trying to order a milkshake. "And then I made it for her and I handed it to her and I’m like, 'Your shake is on me tonight, you have a good night.'"
It was a small act, but one that touched the woman profoundly.
She returned a few days later just to ask the boss if there was a way to formally recognize McGee for his kindness.
“She told me that, you know, she had just lost her husband a few weeks ago, and it was really tough, and I understood where she was coming from because I’ve had the same experience and so I felt really bad for her, but it was really cool that Brenden could cheer her up,” VanDyke said.
While the store does not have an employee of the month award, it posted a “Way to go Brenden” sign in the back room.
McGee says he didn't expect anything in return for his kindness that day.
“I was really shocked actually,” McGee said. “I didn't expect her to come back.”
Two months after his good deed went viral, McGee was diagnosed with cancer, LittleThings reports.
In a twist of fate, the generosity he showed that day ended up coming back to him.
Through various online fundraising efforts, people from all over the world donated money to help the teenager who had once captured their hearts with his kindness receive medical treatment.
In March 2016, McGee got the news he was cancer-free.
“It definitely is better to be kind and polite,” McGee once said, having no idea at the time just how true those words would end up being.