When a 96-year-old woman flew on a plane for the first time in 15 years on her birthday, a stranger on board came forward to support and comfort her throughout the entire flight. Their story went viral on Facebook with over 300,000 likes and over 78,000 shares.
Megan Ashley Schofield, an education consultant and a resident of San Diego, California who encountered the episode while flying from San Diego to Nashville.
Ashley told The Epoch Times in a written interview that the 96-year-old woman called Virginia was laying over in Nashville before heading to Kansas City and that the kind man’s name was Ben.
Virginia had not flown for 15 years and she wanted to spend her birthday with her family in Kansas City but she was afraid of flying.
“She asked for this man’s hand during takeoff and then hugged him again when experiencing turbulence. This gentleman I should say, gladly took her hand, let her hold onto him, calmed her by talking to her and explaining everything that was happening, and simply was that stranger there for her,” Schofield shared on Facebook.
“He knew just what to do the entire flight to help. He helped her stand up to go to the restroom and watched her carefully walk down the aisle. It made me smile the whole flight as he comforted her,” she wrote.
Schofield said the “flight angel” held the old woman’s bag, helped her get off the plane into the wheelchair. “He stayed with her until she caught up with her daughter who got separated from her,” she wrote.
The education consultant said she walked off from the scene “sobbing” and grateful for such a “wonderful human.”
Schofield later told The Epoch Times that the episode touched her because it reminded her of her grandmother who passed away in the fall.
“I was very close to her. And I thought if that was my grandmother I would want someone to treat her the way he treated this woman,” she said.
She said the episode inspired her and helped her to remember that she should be more aware of who needs help around her.
“We’re always hustling from point A to point B especially when traveling. We need to take a step back and see who can use a helping hand. One small act of kindness can mean so much to others,” Schofield who trains teachers from around the country on an online platform told The Epoch Times.
She appreciated Ben for his compassion and kind heart and said she has never been inspired like this on a flight before.
“It’s a good lesson on focusing on the good in people and restoring our faith in how far kindness can truly go,” Schofield told The Epoch Times.
In another Facebook post, she shared that her intention to write the episode was to spread kindness but she never thought of doing it beyond her family.
“I had no thought of this spreading this far or even past my immediate friends and family,” she wrote.
The Contagious Nature of Kindness
In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard said that cooperative behavior is contagious.
“When people benefit from kindness they ‘pay it forward’ by helping others who were not originally involved, and this creates a cascade of cooperation that influences dozens more in a social network,” said a summary of the study posted on the University of California’s website.
“Our work over the past few years, examining the function of human social networks and their genetic origins, has led us to conclude that there is a deep and fundamental connection between social networks and goodness,” said Nicholas Christakis, from Harvard who is one of the researchers.
“The flow of good and desirable properties like ideas, love and kindness is required for human social networks to endure, and, in turn, networks are required for such properties to spread. Humans form social networks because the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs,” she said.