FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — A FedEx delivery driver’s act of kindness became a viral sensation and turned a Fishers girl’s stay-at-home birthday into an unforgettable celebration.
Jodan Price returned to a customer’s home with a sweet surprise Thursday after learning it was Emma Paternoster’s sixth birthday.
He didn’t know the family but drove to Dairy Queen and picked up four ice cream cupcakes for Emma, her younger sister and her parents.
He “just wanted to make my birthday special,” Emma told News 8, smiling at the memory.
“He felt bad that she wouldn’t have a birthday like everyone else,” said Liz Paternoster, her mother. “He said, ‘You know, if we weren’t in this situation, she’d be at school with her friends.'”
Emma’s father recorded a video of the kindergartner answering the door in a “BIRTHDAY GIRL” shirt and matching pink tutu and squealing with delight.
Within days, the 9-second clip had received more than 22,000 “likes” on Liz’s Twitter account.
“You can share treats with everyone, okay?” Jodan can be heard saying in the video, his voice muffled by a face mask.
He left minutes later — without leaving his name or contact information — prompting Liz to launch a search for the kindhearted delivery driver so she could thank him properly.
“I even stopped other FedEx delivery guys that I saw in the neighborhood later that day, trying to figure out who he was!” she told News 8.
Liz had no luck tracking him down and turned to social media.
“Ok @FedEx our driver deserves a bonus!” she Tweeted Thursday. “He realized it was our daughter’s birthday & went to @DairyQueen to get her ice cream cupcakes. He said ‘I just wanted to do this because if we weren’t in this situation, she’d be celebrating with friends.’ I’m not crying. You’re crying!”
The post quickly went viral and reached Jodan’s son, a Lehigh University graduate living in Pennsylvania.
Austin Price recognized his father in the photos Liz included and Tweeted, “This is my dad!!!!” followed by a sobbing emoji. Within five days, his post had more than 800,000 “likes.”
Jodan returned Tuesday to the Paternoster’s home after the two families connected on social media.
This time, he was the one greeted by a surprise — signs on the door saying, “Thank you, Mr. Price!’ and “You’re our hero.”
“He really, truly is a hero,” Liz said. “I mean, they’re so busy right now. And to still think of others, even those that you don’t even know, is inspiring.”