Drew Lewis, 23, a waiter at Olive Garden in Akron, Ohio, explained in a viral Facebook post last week that during a Friday evening shift, a family with “four very wound up kids” sat in his section. Sensing parents Krista and Jeff Gallagher were overwhelmed, he chatted with their children. One of them, Tommy, reminded Lewis of himself as an 8-year-old boy.
“I love kids — I pride myself on taking care of families and entertaining children to give their parents a break,” Lewis tells Yahoo Lifestyle. He adds that he was touched by Tommy’s bubbly personality and his goal of becoming a police officer — Lewis is a police cadet at the University of Akron/Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
Lewis asked about the boy’s purple-and-orange shirt reading #TommyStrong and learned that it referred to his brain surgery on Oct. 22 to treat his epilepsy, a severe seizure disorder.
“At the end of dinner, Tommy asked me if I was busy Monday and if I could come to his surgery and be there when he gets out,” wrote Lewis on Facebook. “I promised Tommy Gallagher that I would be there today.
“This kid showed me how to be strong and handle the diversity life throws at you. Get well soon Tommy Gallagher.”
Krista Gallagher tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the relationship between Tommy and Lewis is fate. The parties exchanged contact information after dinner, but she didn’t think a busy college student would be able to follow through.
Lewis kept his word, though, showing up at Akron Children’s Hospital while doctors removed Tommy’s left hippocampus. The procedure left him with short-term memory loss, temporary vision and speech problems, and other motor complications.
The new friends plan to share a meal after Tommy heals, and Lewis wants to help him get a jump-start on his police career. “I plan on maintaining this relationship,” Lewis says. “I want to see Tommy grow.”
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