I can think of few things that break my heart as much as a child suffering from some kind of disability. Situations like that can make a child, who is already so vulnerable, feel even more sensitive and hurt.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the child will not lead a fulfilled and happy life and I can only imagine the amount of character such children can build. That is the great silver lining.
When I read about Landon Pearson, my heart immediately felt for the boy. Landon was born with a club foot, a birth defect where one or both feet face inwards and downwards.
This would naturally pose unique challenges for Landon and his family as he was growing up. But it would also lead to incomparable moments of kindness and compassion — sometimes from complete strangers.
Landon spent the first years of his young life in casts and corrective braces. But finally, after years of treatment, the time came at last: Landon could finally wear shoes like any other ‘normal’ boy.
As one can only imagine, it was thus a thrilling, momentous occasion when Landon, then 8, could finally visit a regular shoe shop and choose his first pair of ordinary shoes.
Mother Natalie Ann and a very excited Landon headed out to an Under Armour store, where the 8-year-old would get to pick out his very first pair of ‘normal’ training shoes.
When they arrived, the store manager, a man named Sean Kelly, measured Landon’s feet — but that’s when Natalie’s heart sank. Landon’s feet were two shoe sizes apart. Her son would need both a size three and a size six.
This meant Natalie would have to buy two separate sets of the same shoe. The news that her son’s joyous and ‘normal’ shoe shopping experience would yet again be complicated shattered the mother’s heart in pieces.
“Anyone who knows Landon knows he was born with a club foot and has struggled ever since the day he was born,” she later wrote on Facebook. “As he grew older his right foot did, too. However, his left foot being casted so much did not allow his left to keep up.”
Clearly emotional, Natalie felt she had to explain her reaction to Sean, the store manager. She told Sean about Landon’s long, challenging journey throughout the years.
“I struggled to hold back tears as I always do, but Landon loved these shoes so I knew regardless I was buying both,” she said. “I made the comment, ‘Well, we buy both.'”
Sean’s heart was moved by the humble boy’s story. He could see how attached the boy was to the cool shoes he’d selected and how sad Natalie looked. And he didn’t hesitate. He made Natalie an offer she couldn’t believe:
“How about I buy a pair and you buy a pair?” he said.
And that’s what he did. Sean paid one pair completely out of his own pocket while Natalie paid for the other. The mother-and-son’s shoe shopping experience went from deeply disappointing to filling them with a burst of emotions all thanks to this man’s gesture of pure kindness.
“Not that we wanted a hand out or couldn’t afford them, but he wanted to do this for a little boy who loved these shoes,” Natalie writes. “Seriously, I’m amazed by how kind people truly can be, to make a kid smile.”
Kindness Attracts Kindness
Following their heartwarming experience at the shop, Natalie knew she wanted to put in a word of praise in for Sean. She contacted Under Armour and told them what he had done.
Meanwhile, Landon prepared his very own thank you card for Sean. But things didn’t end there.
“Sean ended up having a surprise up his sleeve for Landon,” the mother says. “We went into the store and were looking for a few things and Landon mentioned I want a back pack from here for school. Here comes Sean with a backpack of goodies. Landon was pumped and so grateful. We were also told that Under Armour World Headquarters had given us 5 buy one get one free for shoes. Which is incredible. Some may see this as a small gesture but to us it’s huge! As if the first story didn’t tear at your heart strings, this only solidifies there are good people out there. Sean didn’t have to do this, Under Armour didn’t have to do anything. But people made things happen, to be kind.”
“But people made things happen, to be kind.” That line just stayed with me after reading this simple yet incredible heartwarming story.
Let’s all be better at making things happen, to be kind. Share with your family and friends if Natalie and Landon’s story touched you, too.