The Halo Effect of Compassion
There are certain decisions made by individuals that can profoundly impact a community and beyond. Moments where a simple act of kindness is met with curiosity and the shared experience of two people ripples through the hearts of all.
This moment where curiosity is met with kindness and kinship is formed is how we come to know Caleb and Mr. David. Dave Weingardt, or as he is more formally known, “Mr. David” is a gentle soul with a personal connection to raising a child with special needs.
A Meeting of Chance
One fateful day Mr. David found himself on a route driving his big brown UPS truck when he stopped by Caleb’s house. Caleb was out in the front yard playing with his brothers. The first thing that caught Mr. David’s eye was the soft blue helmet Caleb was wearing. It reminded him of the one his own son Kaymen wore. As Mr. David waited for Caleb’s mother to come outside to drop off a delivery, Caleb exclaimed “I like your truck!” Mr. David began to talk to Caleb and as they conversed he noticed that Caleb was the same age as his own son Kaymen. Mr. David also began to notice that Caleb’s posture, gait, head tilt, and mannerisms all reminded him of his own son. For a brief moment, he felt that he was looking at his own child. Mr. David believes that Caleb entered his life at just the right moment.
Mr. David introduced himself to Nichole, Caleb’s Mother, and they bonded over their shared kinship of understanding that only parents raising children with special needs could. This is where the shared experiences morphed into a friendship. Nichole and Mr. David got to know each other and eventually brought their sons Caleb and Kaymen together. These boys hit it off. They loved the same things – trains, trucks, and Winnie the Pooh.
Sorrow and Kinship
On May 31st, 2020, Dave experienced what no parent should. He lost his own son Kaymen at the tender age of 17 who experienced his vivacious life with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that begins in infancy and impacts an individual throughout their lifetime. While Dave was still grappling with the loss of his own son, he found himself on the same route to Caleb’s house. As he arrived at Caleb’s house, Caleb ran out of the house and hugged him.
An Experience to Remember
Mr. David and Caleb have developed a wonderful friendship and with Caleb’s enthusiasm for UPS trucks, Mr. David had an idea to honor Caleb with a special day. One he had planned for his son. Mr. David spoke with his colleagues at UPS and was able to make Caleb an honorary UPS driver for one day.
With the coordination of Nichole and the UPS facility, Nichole drove Caleb to Mr. David’s UPS hub to start their day. They provided Caleb with his own official UPS attire and let him see the inner workings of the truck he was about to get to ride in. Caleb and Mr. David drove around the facility honking the horn and received rancorous applause from all of the fellow drivers as they prepared to start their own delivery days.
Their next stop on their adventure was Caleb’s very own house where there were special packages to be hand-delivered to each family member. After a few laps around the neighborhood, it was time for Caleb’s very important job to begin. As they pulled up, Caleb knew exactly what to do. He met with each of his brothers, took their names, and ran back to the truck to find each of their packages. He returned one by one delivering packages, feeling the joy of being a little bit like Santa. After the work of the deliveries was done Mr. David mentioned to Caleb that one last package needed to be delivered. It was a huge box full of UPS goodies. Caleb dove right in and began playing with all of the gifts that had been provided by UPS for their honorary driver. Caleb also showed off his very own UPS truck, which was a painted UPS box that was made for Caleb by his family for his birthday.
As Caleb sat in the front yard of his house enjoying the bounty of a hard day’s work, Mr. David said his farewells to the family and to Caleb and began to walk back to his truck. He glanced back at Caleb playing with all his new toys and for a moment Mr. David saw his own son Kaymen. This struck Mr. David with emotion, as the day he took Caleb on his special adventure was almost exactly one year past Kaymen’s passing. As he turned to leave, he had to take a moment to compose himself. As he looked up he saw the image of an angel in the clouds and knew that Kaymen was following them on their journey the entire day. Mr. David left that day feeling the pride of giving Caleb an experience he will cherish for the rest of his life.