A Nevada mom is singing the praises of a passenger who helped comfort and entertain her son with autism through his first solo plane journey.
Alexa Bjornson was worried about her 7-year-old son, Landon, traveling alone on a flight from Las Vegas to Oregon on Thursday to visit his father. To ease her concerns, the mother wrote a letter to her son’s seatmate, explaining that he has high-functioning autism and may ask “Are we there yet?” frequently during the trip.
She also enclosed $10 with the note, in the hopes that it would act as an incentive for the passenger to keep son safe.
Luckily for Landon, passenger Ben Pedraza was more than happy to help.
Pedraza said that the pair had a relatively normal flight, and while he doesn’t always talk to the people he sits with beyond a greeting and brief small talk, Landon made conversing easy.
“We played a brief video game, rock-paper-scissors, and we often checked how long was left of the flight,” Pedraza tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
"We were cracking jokes, and after a while, he asked me to quit making dad jokes,” he told Oregon news station KATU.
However, the whole discussion wasn’t just fun and games, Pedraza said that the young boy shared some more serious details with him, too.
“One thing Landon shared that resonated with me is that he’s sometimes bullied. I have a nephew with facial cranial deformities and he hates school for this very reason,” Pedraza says. “I think more needs to be discussed and done to thwart this behavior by other children and adults. It starts at home, I believe.”
Following the flight, Pedraza sent a note back to Alexa to reassure her that her son had a safe and successful trip. In his note, he said that $10 she enclosed was not necessary, and he donated it to the Autism Society in honor of Landon. “He’s a great kid and you’re a lucky mom,” Pedraza wrote.
Alexa posted a screenshot of the note to her Facebook page in which she thanked Pedraza.
“I am so grateful to this individual, and that there are still kind people in the world who make a difference like I try myself to do as well,” she wrote.
Pedraza tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he sent the note because he wanted Alexa to know that her son was fine. He said he “could tell she was very concerned for him.”
While Pedraza says he definitely didn’t expect for this to go viral, the public is applauding him for his kind act in comments on Alexa's Facebook post.
“This is so awesome!! Hope this man gets to read all the good comments for him,” one person commented.
“Gives us hope for the good in the world! Thank you, Ben, for showing the world that kindness is the way to go,” another added.
Pedraza said that a small gesture like making a young boy feel comfortable during a new experience made him feel good too.
“You do something like this and it’s a boost to your day. There’s no telling where it’ll go, but the point is to share a moment with the other person,” Pedraza tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There’s a certain self-satisfaction one gets from knowing they’ve been kind, helpful or giving — much like enjoying beautiful scenery without trying to capture it in a photograph for later.”
Pedraza added said that he plans to keep in touch with the mother-son duo.
Alexa Bjornson did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
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