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A man sitting next to screaming children on an American Airlines flight helped their mom calm them down — and his act of kindness is going viral

INSIDER logoINSIDER 5/1/2018 feedback@thisisinsider.com (Nian Hu)

A man sitting next to a screaming toddler on the airplane responded by calming her down and becoming friends with her. © Provided by Business Insider Inc A man sitting next to a screaming toddler on the airplane responded by calming her down and becoming friends with her. Many of us have encountered screaming children during a flight.

While most people might consider them annoying, and some might go so far as to demand their removal from the plane, one man displayed a rare act of kindness and generosity on a recent flight by helping a mom calm her kids down when they were throwing temper tantrums

Jessica Rudeen, a 34-year-old mom from Bentonville, Arkansas, brought her two kids on an American Airlines flight to Wilmington, North Carolina, on April 10.

The stay-at-home mom told INSIDER that she had encountered some issues as she was going through airport security with her kids, and, as a result, she didn't have time to feed her 4-month-old baby Alexander before they had to board the plane.

Alexander started screaming in her arms as they boarded, and, when they arrived at their seats in the back of the plane, Rudeen's 3-year-old daughter Caroline also started crying.

"Once I asked her to sit down, she started to get nervous and scared and it turned into a full meltdown," Rudeen told us. "I tried everything I could to convince her to sit. She was having none of it and started screaming, 'I don't want to go, I want to get off the plane!'"

While Rudeen's two kids were crying, the man sitting next to the mom offered to hold her baby.

Todd Walker, 51, works at a lumber company in Kansas City and was traveling to Wilmington on a routine visit to his company's import mill.

The father of two told INSIDER he had just gotten settled for the flight when he heard a commotion nearby.

"I honestly had no idea what was going on," Walker said. "Then I see this mom coming around the corner, and she has these giant eyes that are just filled with fear. Her kids are tired and angry and stressed." 

Instead of getting impatient or annoyed, Walker asked her, "Can I hold that little guy?"

"I didn't even think, I just handed him over," Rudeen said.

While Walker held Alexander, Rudeen took the opportunity to put Caroline into her seat, strap on her seatbelt, and put on her favorite movie, "Trolls." Within moments, Caroline settled down and stopped screaming.

Then, Walker handed Alexander back to Rudeen so she could feed him, and soon the baby calmed down as well.

Walker started to make conversation with Caroline. © Provided by Business Insider Inc Walker started to make conversation with Caroline. While Rudeen fed her infant, Walker made conversation with Caroline. "He engaged with her, asked her questions, and eventually she was offering him her coloring book to color, telling him how old she is, introducing her brother," Rudeen said. "By the end of the flight, he was Caroline's best friend."

Before they landed, Walker realized that he was on the same connecting flight as Rudeen. He helped her family off the plane, walked them over to the connecting flight, and even switched his seat so he could sit next to them.

GALLERY: Best and Worst Airlines for International Flights (Provided by GoBankingRates)


After they got off the flight, Rudeen was so touched by Walker's kindness and compassion that she wrote a Facebook post about her encounter.

"This guy showed me kindness and compassion that I've never known from another person," Rudeen wrote on Facebook. "I am blown away by God's hand in this because we could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met in my life." 


Initially, she shared the Facebook post because she wanted to find Walker to keep in touch. Rudeen knew that Walker lived in Kansas City and that his oldest son attended college in Arkansas, so she was sure that someone in her group of friends would know him.

To her surprise, her Facebook post went viral, with thousands of reactions and comments, and a mere three hours after sharing her post, she was able to reconnect with Walker.

a group of people standing around a bag of luggage: Walker and Caroline leaving the American Airlines flight together. © Provided by Business Insider Inc Walker and Caroline leaving the American Airlines flight together. Neither Rudeen or Walker expected their story to go viral, but both said they feel humbled and happy that there is so much attention surrounding a positive and uplifting story.

"Kindness is everywhere, and I think sometimes it's overlooked because of the negative side of life," Rudeen said. "People say this kind of gesture is common, but for me and my family, it was anything but common that day. It was genuinely life-changing."

Walker said he was happy to help, and that he gained something important from that encounter as well. "I made some new friends on that flight," he said. "At the end of the day, I felt like I was the lucky one."

a person standing next to a bag of luggage: Walker holding hands with three-year-old Caroline after they got off the plane. © Provided by Business Insider Inc Walker holding hands with three-year-old Caroline after they got off the plane.

Since connecting on social media, the two families have become friends and have made plans to meet up again.

Both Walker and Rudeen are excited that their chance encounter has led to a promising friendship between their families. Walker was especially excited to spend more time with the two kids.

"I hope this becomes a long-term thing, so I can go to their graduation and wedding one day," he said. "I hope these children can really become a part of our lives. That would be so sweet."

a man sitting in front of a window: Walker and Caroline became good friends after the flight. © Provided by Business Insider Inc Walker and Caroline became good friends after the flight.

WATCH: Near-Standing Airline Seats Would Allow Airlines To Pack In More Passengers (Provided by CBS Boston)

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