Stranger comforts hysterical toddler on flight, goes viral

Parents of young children know that flying with little ones can be tricky, making one stranger’s gesture all the more appreciated.

Last week, Jessica Rudeen of Arkansas was on an American Airlines flight from Kansas City to Wilmington, N.C., to visit her mother with her two young children. Soon after boarding, her 4-month-old son Alexander began screaming and her 3-year-old daughter Caroline, who had initially been excited to fly, but had now “lost her nerve” and began to scream and kick.

jessica rudeen

"Flying is stressful. I had little kids once. I think most people on that plane have had little kids themselves."  (Jessica Rudeen)

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“I want to get off the plane! I don’t want to go!” yelled Caroline, according to one of Rudeen's Facebook posts. “I honestly thought we’d get kicked off the plane," added the mom. "So with two kids losing their minds, I was desperately trying to calm the situation.”

jessica rudeen

Todd Walker's own children are now 18 and 20 years old.  (Jessica Rudeen)

Luckily, the family of three was seated next to a man who understood all too well what it was like to be in Jessica’s shoes. Todd Walker of Lenexa, Kan., recalled a scene, many years prior, when his own wife benefitted from the help of a stranger on a plane in quelling the anxieties of their sons, now ages 18 and 20.

"I saw was a mom looking around the corner at me with big eyes, and two kids in tow that were both having a bad day,” Walker told Fox 4 KC.

"Flying is stressful. I had little kids once. I think most people on that plane have had little kids themselves, and we have all had that fear of our kids not doing well on the flight,” he later mused to Motherly.

“So I just wanted her [Jessica] to know that hey, it's OK, we're gonna do this together and be fine."

In the Facebook post that has since been liked over 12,000 times and shared nearly 5,000, Rudeen said that Walker held Alexander as she got Caroline settled in her seat, and spent the flight entertaining Caroline, coloring, watching a movie, and showing her the sights outside of their window.

“By the end of the flight, he was Caroline’s best friend,” Rudeen said.

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As if the fortunate encounter couldn’t get any more sweet, Walker had the same connection in Charlotte to Wilmington, and helped the crew deplane and find the next gate.  (Jessica Rudeen)

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As if the fortunate encounter couldn’t get any more sweet, Walker had the same connection from Charlotte to Wilmington, and helped the family deplane and find the next gate. He even changed his seat to sit next to the Rudeen’s on the way to North Carolina.

“I am blown away by God’s hand in this because we could have been placed next to anyone, but we were seated next to one of the nicest men I have ever met in my life,” Rudeen said of Walker’s generosity.

"For what it's worth, it was the most fun/rewarding flights I have been on in a long time and I never thought I would see or hear from them again after I walked out of the airport in Wilmington," Walker told Fox News of the experiene. 

The two families plan to see each other again soon, with a meet-up planned for May.

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Janine Puhak is an editor for Fox News Lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter at @JaninePuhak