'Umbrella guy, thank you': Internet praises man shielding student in a wheelchair from rain

Vincennes University student Andrew Cohen ran across the parking lot to hold an umbrella for a fellow student in the pouring rain. (Credit: Elizabeth Stevens-Hardin)
Vincennes University student Andrew Cohen ran across the parking lot to hold an umbrella for a fellow student in the pouring rain. (Credit: Elizabeth Stevens-Hardin)

Vincennes University student Andrew Cohen’s random act of kindness for a fellow student during inclement weather has gone viral on social media.

It was pouring in Vincennes, Indiana, on Wednesday when Cohen, a business administration major, saw a fellow student in a wheelchair across the parking lot headed towards class in the rain with his service dog and no umbrella.

It was also drizzling outside and I thought he could use an umbrella,” Cohen told Yahoo Lifestyle.  “So I crossed the street and held my umbrella over his head as we passed.

Cohen held up his own umbrella for the student and walked him all the way to the building for his next class. The two had never met before. “I’d never talked to him before that day,” Cohen told Yahoo Lifestyle. “I found out his name was Parker and his dog’s name was Herb.

Elizabeth Stevens-Hardin, an employee at Vincennes University,  was on her way to lunch when she happened upon the moment.

“It really touched my heart. He was getting soaked and running to keep up with the student to keep him covered,” Stevens-Hardin told Yahoo Lifestyle. “My thoughts were, ‘What a wonderful young man!’ If either one of those boys were my son I would want a picture of that.”

Stevens-Hardin, a production manager at the college’s radio station Blazer 91.1 WVUB, quickly snapped a photo and later posted it to WVUB’s Facebook page with a caption that read, “Spread kindness!” 

The young man’s moment of compassion soon took the internet by storm, garnering more than 500 likes and 280 shares with strangers singing his praises. “I’m sure your and the others’ 10-minute act of kindness will leave a long-lasting impact on the person you helped,” commented one Facebook user.

“Umbrella guy, thank you for showing kindness,” wrote another.

Cohen later saw the viral post and was quick to share his side of the story, giving credit to the others whose kindness he was inspired by.

I appreciate all the kind words people are giving me for my action,” Cohen wrote on his Facebook.  “However, what wasn’t captured were the other four or so students taking time out of their day to help him free his wheelchair when it became stuck. I was really far from all of this and they managed to dislodge it before I reached them. I was not the only one showing kindness today.

The radio station later interviewed Cohen on air, where he gave credit to the four students he saw helping Parker initially. However, the Vincennes University student hopes that the people who do see the photo of him and Parker “take something from it, and spread kindness.”

“It doesn’t cost anything, so go for it. It can really impact someone’s day,” he said.

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