The Kindness of Strangers in Unexpected Places

Halsey Blocher avatar

by Halsey Blocher |

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For our summer vacation, my family and I decided to take a trip to Ontario, Canada, to see Niagara Falls. Most of us had never been, and I had never traveled out of the United States.

We walked by the falls, took a trip to the top of the Skylon Tower, visited a tropical bird aviary, and watched fireworks over the water from our hotel room. We also spent a day seeing the sights of nearby Toronto.

One of the things we had been looking forward to seeing in the city was the aquarium. I’ve always loved aquariums, but once we got inside we were quickly overwhelmed by the chaos. It felt like everyone in the city had the same idea. The sheer number of people might have been manageable, but every single one of them was determined to be first in every single line. They didn’t seem to mind that they were physically pushing in between me and my family in order to accomplish this. While I loved the glimpses of marine life that I got, stepping outside at the end was a breath of fresh air and a welcome return of my personal space.

Next, we decided to explore the train museum we had spotted across the street from the aquarium. After all, how often do you get the chance to see an old roundhouse in the middle of a city? Large portions of the museum are outside and we spent time wandering around the old trains and watching one be moved off the large turntable at the center.

It was a beautiful day, but when storm clouds began to roll in we decided to make our way to the restaurant and arcade at one end of the converted roundhouse. As we approached the patio entrance, rain started to fall and diners were being relocated indoors. This is where we encountered a problem: The doorway had a 3-inch step that my chair couldn’t get over.

As people rushed to get out of the rain, we tried to figure out what to do. Two men who had taken notice of us offered to help lift me and my chair into the restaurant. Most people don’t realize that my wheelchair weighs almost 400 pounds, but we were touched by their willingness to help and agreed to let them try. These two gentlemen and my stepdad put forth a valiant effort, but the chair was too heavy.

At this point, we moved on to Plan B. My stepdad went to check a second entrance while the two strangers searched for wood they could use to create a makeshift ramp. They spotted some leaning against one of the museum’s outbuildings, but before they found a suitable piece, my stepdad confirmed that the other entrance would work. The men walked with us to the door before returning to their meal, and we thanked them for their efforts to help us get inside.

Safely out of the rain, we enjoyed a delicious meal accompanied by live music and talked about these gentlemen and their unexpected act of kindness. While most people we encountered that day rushed around us without taking much notice, these two went out of their way when they saw that we needed help.

We never found out who they were, but we are very grateful for their selflessness. Should either of them ever happen to read this, I hope they know that my family and I deeply appreciate their kindness! In this busy world where others are often overlooked, I hope more people would take a page from their book and take the time to help a stranger. It might just make someone’s day as it did ours.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


Eli avatar


I love aquariums! It’s a shame that it was so overrun and crowded. And wow, how kind of those guys to even stop to see if they could help. I’m glad you had so much fun!


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