Gardendale, Ala. — Ordering food at a drive-through is typically a pretty mundane task, but for one family it turned into an extraordinary experience Sunday. A Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy paid for the meal of the family behind him the drive-through line at Milo's, not knowing they had just left the hospital with their son who is battling cancer.
Deputy Nick Talton says he was simply paying it forward. The person in front of him in line here at drive-through paid for his meal, so he paid for the meal of the family behind him. "We're always thankful when people buy our lunch and thank us for our service so that's what made me want to pay for hers," says Talton.
LeighAnn Mahaffey and her family were on the receiving end of Deputy Talton's generosity. They had just left the hospital with their six-year-old son, Rio, who is battling a rare form of cancer. "When you get a police officer to do that for you it just means that more more to me knowing that they're out there risking their lives to protect me and my kids and he took his own money and paid for something for me and that just meant a lot to me," says Mahaffey.
Mahaffey didn't know who had paid for their meal until Friday. She met Talton back at the Milo's so she and Rio could say "thank you."
"My kids seeing this lets them know that they can give back and bless somebody else the way that we've been blessed," says Mahaffey.
Deputy Talton learned about Rio's cancer and let him and his sister sit in his vehicle. "It just goes to show you never know what people are dealing with. Behind you in the drive-through they might be having a bad day, people next to you in Publix buying their groceries might be having a bad day or going through some stuff that you can't even imagine."
Mahaffey says the best part of this isn't the free meal, it's this meeting with Deputy Talton. "It's so nice to see a smile on their faces, especially Rio's because he goes through so much."
Six-year-old Rio still has several cancer treatments to go through. But his mother wants to remind everyone that this month is childhood cancer awareness month.