Why A Soldier Helped Two Young Boys In A Taco Bell

A random act of kindness can make someone’s day. This was especially true for two young boys who entered Taco Bell late on a Tuesday. Soaking wet from the rain, the boys didn’t have money to pay for dinner. That’s when a U.S. soldier stepped in.

The soldier went out of his way to help two boys who were strangers. When their interaction was filmed, it quickly went viral. Learn the story that has inspired millions of people.

An Average Night For A U.S. Soldier

Robert Risdon stands with fellow armymen in front of the air force.
Curious Minds/YouTube
Curious Minds/YouTube

It was a cold, stormy Tuesday night in Alabama. As a soldier, Ltd. Robert Risdon Jr. was used to feeling cold and wet. But he wasn’t on duty that night. He worked as a football coach for the Columbus Lions in Fort Benning, Georgia.

On that night, Risdon was with his assistant coach Jason Gibson. They had traveled to Mobile, Alabama, to watch their players practice for the Senior Bowl. Meanwhile outside, the rain was pouring down.

Stopping By Taco Bell

A Taco Bell restaurant is pictured.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Around 9:30 p.m., Risdon and Gibson drove back to their hometown of Fort Benning. Before leaving the state, the two decided to grab a bite to eat. They stopped by a Taco Bell in Greenville, Alabama.

The restaurant had many wet, tired customers eating late-night meals. The two coaches ordered their food and sat down to eat. Everything was normal until two young kids entered the restaurant. That night would change the two kids’ lives.

Two Lone Kids On A School Night

Risdon points to the menu while ordering Taco Bell for two kids.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

Two kids entered the Taco Bell, and Risdon described them as “soaking wet.” The boys–one aged 12, the other aged nine–did not buy food. Instead, they walked around the table and spoke to every patron. But the interactions didn’t seem to be going well.

“They looked like they hadn’t eaten a meal in weeks and had been out in the rain selling their stuff for a while,” Risdon later said. But before Risdon to talk to them, they approached his table.

Not Buying Food–Selling Food

A heart-shaped donut sits on a plate.
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

The young boys asked Risdon and Gibson if they wanted to buy some sweets. They were selling candy, baked goods, and other sugary treats. The money raised would go towards the boys’ church.

Because neither coach had cash on them, they declined. The boys began walking away, but Risdon stopped them. Instead of buying homemade treats for their church, he had something else in mind to help out the boys that night.

The Decision That Made Their Night

Soldier Robert Risdon buys kids dinner at Taco Bell.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

Risdon asked them, “Can you boys finish off ten tacos?” Their faces lit up. They clearly appeared hungry and overworked on a school night. And so Risdon went out of his way to buy the kids five tacos each.

The three sat at a different table from Gibson, and as the boys ate, they talked. Meanwhile, Gibson admired the scene. “They both ate their first taco in under a minute,” he told TODAY. “I’ve never seen anyone devour food that quickly before.”

Risdon Empathized On A Personal Level

A soldier buys a boy Taco Bell.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

Risdon sympathized with the boys from his time in the Army. Although he could not relate to their exact situation, Risdon knew how it felt to be shivering and hungry. The boys appeared hungry and overworked on a school night.

“I can’t even count the number of times I was cold, wet, and hungry in the Army,” Risdon later told TODAY. “To sit in warmth and eat some tacos is a big victory for them.”

Hungry But Polite

A 12-pack of taco bell tacos is seen.
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Taco Bell
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell

As Risdon spoke to the boys, he learned that they were brothers. He later described them as “super respectful.” “Whoever is raising them is doing a great job,” Gibson said. Meanwhile, the boys devoured their tacos.

Despite their obvious hunger, they replied to all questions with “yes sir” and “no sir.” “Both of them called me sir, both of them were extremely respectful,” Risdon later said. He was impressed by the brothers’ gratefulness and politeness.

A Kid Who Wanted To Be A Soldier

The younger brother, BJ, smiles at the camera while Risdon buys the other brother food.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

During the conversation, the younger brother, B.J., recognized Risdon’s uniform. B.J. confessed that he looks up to Risdon and wanted to be a soldier when he grew up. “You know, I want to be just like you someday,” he told Risdon.

“I thought it was amazing. A 9-year-old boy is coming up to me and saying, ‘You protect us, you take care of us,'” Risdon later told WTVM. BJ clearly admired and looked up to Risdon.

Learning The Correct Way To Salute

The younger brother, BJ, smiles at the camera.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

While talking about the Army life, Risdon got a chance to teach the younger brother something. B.J. kept trying to salute him, and Risdon taught him the proper Army way.

“He was saluting me with his left hand while holding a taco in his right, which is the proper hand to use,” Risdon later told TODAY. He corrected B.J.’s form and taught him to salute properly. “[It] will come in handy if he actually grows up to be a soldier.”

Thinking Of His Own Kids

A photo shows Risdon and his daughter.
Curious Minds/YouTube
Curious Minds/YouTube

After their conversation, the two kids called their grandfather. They showed off that a kind man paid for their tacos and proved that they didn’t spend church money on food. Throughout the interaction, Risdon continually thought about his own family.

“My kids were running through my mind the whole time,” he later said. “The thought of my kids in their situation broke my heart, so it made me react and want to help the boys out.”

Leaving With A Final Promise

Robert Risdon interviews about his kindness in Taco Bell.
Curious Minds/YouTube
Curious Minds/YouTube

Before the strangers parted ways, Risdon wanted to give them a final goodbye. He told them, “When you’re older, and you’re in a position to help someone out — don’t pass it up.” The brothers promised to act as generously as Risdon did in the future.

As the kids left Taco Bell, B.J. gave Risdon one final salute–correctly this time. Little did they know that their interaction would go viral. Someone had filmed their entire conversation.

The Entire Interaction Was Secretly Filmed

A person holds up an iPhone.
Joseph Branston/Apple Bookazine via Getty Images
Joseph Branston/Apple Bookazine via Getty Images

While Risdon was treating the kids to tacos, he had no idea that he was being filmed. His friend and assistant coach Jason Gibson filmed part of the interaction. Gibson was touched and wanted to capture the heartwarming experience.

After filming the random act of kindness, Gibson posted the video to his Facebook page (with Risdon’s permission). Both kids remained anonymous. The two coaches finished their night, went home, and did not think about the video further.

Quickly Going Viral

Two kids order Taco Bell with a soldier.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

Neither coach expected the video to go viral, but it did. Within a week, the video gained over 200,000 views, and over 5,000 people shared it. Users felt blessed to see a soldier perform an act of kindness with no motivation for a reward.

Several news outlets, such as ABC and TODAY, picked up on the story. On YouTube, the video has over two million views. Risdon felt “kinda embarrassed and humbled by the praise.” He did not expect the video to go viral.

No Need To Compliment Him

Risdon pays for the kids' food at Taco Bell.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

Within a week after the video being posted, Risdon received messages from people around the world. Although he felt flattered by people complimenting him, he also didn’t feel that his actions need praising.

“I am a believer that we live in the best country in the world with the best people,” he said, “and that acts of kindness happen every day.” Risdon believed that kindness and generosity are a natural response, not something that should be unexpected.

Kindness Was A No-Brainer

BJ receives his dinner from Taco Bell.
Jason Gibson/YouTube
Jason Gibson/YouTube

For Risdon, helping the two kids was a “no-brainer.” He grew up learning to help others in need, even if they were strangers. And despite the praise he kept receiving, he continued to compliment the brothers as well.

“They were great kids, very respectful and smart,” he told the Huffington Post. “It was the least I could do for two young Americans. They were happy to get some chow for sure and very thankful.”

The Army Rangers’ Mission Statement

Members of the United States Army Fourth Infantry Division stand in front of the American flag.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Risdon had another reason for helping the boys; he was following the mission statement of the U.S. Army Rangers. “I did it because of a creed I live up to every day — the Ranger Creed,” he said.

Risdon summarized the creed: “One line in the creed encapsulates I think why I helped, ‘Never shall I fail my comrades.’ [The boys] were my comrades.” Perhaps everyone can feel motivated to help their comrades after watching Risdon.

Adults And Children Inspired Each Other

A soldier orders food for two brothers.
Curious Minds/YouTube
Curious Minds/YouTube

Risdon was not the only inspiring figure in this story. He asserted that the boys “inspired me as much as I may have made them feel good by just filling their bellies a little bit.” He was very touched by the brothers’ interaction.

The two boys had gone out of their way to raise money for their church on a school night. On the same night, Risdon went out of his way to get them food. Both sides are inspirations in their own right.

A Friendly Hello Can Go A Long Way

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

At nine-years-old, Klynn Scales found her first hero; a local police officer who was assigned to make the rounds in her neighborhood every day. She kept track of what time he would be passing by her house and would sit by the window waiting. When he’d pass by, Klynn would excitedly wave to say hello.

The police officer enjoyed the friendly interaction and would wave back. Every day, the pair would exchange hellos, often brightening otherwise hard days. There’s a reason Klynn’s neighborhood was patrolled daily. She didn’t exactly have an easy childhood.

Klynn Grew Up In A Dangerous Neighborhood

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

Klynn Scales grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. During the 1990s, when she was a little girl, she would help her mom take care of her two younger brothers. To anyone on the outside, she seemed like just another young girl living a normal life.

Her life, however, was anything but normal. Klynn’s neighborhood was so dangerous, she would look forward to seeing the police officer drive by her house every day. This was the truth of Klynn’s life, and somehow she found a way to embrace it. It was, for this reason, she survived through the most difficult time of her life.

Klynn Had To Raise Her Younger Brothers

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Pinterest

The house that Klynn Scales grew up in with her brothers and mother was in a neighborhood ruined by drugs and violence. It was no place for a child to have to grow up, but it was the reality of Klynn’s situation.

Making matters worse, Klynn’s mother was rarely home, having to work ruthless hours to keep a roof over her family’s heads. This meant a lot of Klynn’s life growing up was spent raising her brothers. That’s a lot to ask someone who isn’t even a teenager.

Klynn Played The Role Of Mother

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Pinterest

As the oldest sibling in a household with an absentee parent, Klynn took responsibility for her brothers. She knew they needed to eat, so she would walk through her dangerous neighborhood to go to 7-Eleven. Without money to pay for the essentials, young Klynn was forced to steal what she needed to survive.

The troubled life of Klynn and her brothers is heartbreaking to think about. No child should grow up without a childhood, and that’s essentially what happened. Klynn became a mother to her brothers, and her love drove her to do whatever needed to be done for their well being, even at her own health’s decline.

The Police Noticed Klynn

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Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Because of the way she was forced to live her life, it wasn’t long until the police noticed Klynn Scales. They learned everything they could about the down-on-their-luck family. One police officer in particular, found himself especially concerned.

This was the officer who ended up driving by Klynn’s house every day, becoming a light in an otherwise dark world. Their daily exchange became expected and highly anticipated. This officer was making a huge difference in Klynn’s life. He had no idea that before he knew it, he’d also be saving it.

The Officer Pledged His Allegiance To Klynn

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

Not only did the unnamed police officer drive by Klynn’s house every day to make sure she was safe, he told her that he was there to protect her. Fully grown today, Klynn said, “Through all the bad situations, I would just picture him saying that he was here for us.”

This dedication helped Klynn get through even her darkest times, “those words would come to me during the worst times of my childhood life.” It wouldn’t be long until this promise would be fulfilled, proving to Klynn that good still existed in the world.

A Daily Greeting Became A Warning Sign

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Pinterest

Little Klynn Scales quickly grew attached to her new friend, “He was the one person that I trusted in my life as a kid.” She loved greeting him every day, and he loved waving back. When she didn’t show up to greet him one day he knew something was wrong.

Their greeting had become routine, and considering the neighborhood Klynn lived in and the responsibilities she had as a “mother,” her missing her daily greeting was a troubling warning sign that something wasn’t right.

The Officer Approached The House

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Pinterest

Cautiously, the police officer approached the Scales household and let his instincts take over. What he found when he opened the door was devastating. Little Klynn was laying on the floor, struggling to take a single breath.

The officer rushed Klynn to the emergency room, where all he could do was wait. We know now that Klynn survived, but imagine being this officer with no idea what was happening. We can’t imagine how hard it must have been to helplessly wait outside of the emergency room.

Klynn Was Given A Clean Bill Of Health

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Luckily for the police officer, his quick thinking saved Klynn’s life. At the hospital, it was determined she had suffered a severe episode of malnutrition. If he hadn’t have found her at the time he did, there’s a good chance Klynn would not be alive too.

Shortly after the incident, Klynn moved with her family to Texas. She was never able to say thank you to the man who had saved her life. Knowing it’s never too late, Klynn set out 20-years-later to track down her unnamed hero.

Klynn Turned To The Internet

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

One of the firsts things Klynn did when she began searching for her hero was to post about her experience online. She didn’t know who might see what she was posting, but she stayed optimistic. Her optimism paid off when she saw a comment by Jennifer Jones.

Jones was a Sergeant with the Kansas City Police and saw Klynn’s story. She told Klynn she thought she knew the officer being described. Was Klynn about to find out the true identity of her childhood hero? Was her search for the truth uncovered this easily?

The Name Behind The Face Revealed

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ADAM BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
ADAM BERRY/AFP/Getty Images

In 2016, an officer named Jeff Colvin opened an email from Jennifer Jones. The email talked about Klynn and the story she wrote about online. She explained there was a little girl who lived down the street from the station Colvin worked at was grown up and looking for her “guardian angel.”

Colvin recognized the story right away. He knew who Klynn was, and knew that the little girl whose life he saved was able to grow up. Years of worry and wondering were flushed away with joy and happiness.

Officer Colvin Was Ecstatic

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

Just as Klynn Scales had never forgotten about Jeff Colvin, he had never forgotten her either. As he said, “I had actually thought about her and wondered whatever happened with her.” Now he didn’t have to wonder anymore, he knew the truth.

The truth made him ecstatic. He was overwhelmed with happiness to learn that Klynn was alive. He was also incredibly touched she remembered him and had reached out to find him. The only thing left to do was be reunited with Klynn.

A Reunion With Tears

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

After 20 years not knowing what had happened to the other, Colvin and Klynn reunited in person. Both were overwhelmed with emotions. Klynn even broke down in tears upon seeing her childhood hero again. She admitted that she thought it would never happen.

Colvin’s life was changed by the reunion too. He had spent so long on the force dealing with more failures than successes he was losing his passion for the job. Seeing Klynn reignited a fire inside him.

Colvin Found The Love For His Job Again

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

When Jeff Colvin saw Klynn for the first time in 20 years, something amazing happened. His passion for the job returned. He said, “most times we go through our career not realizing we truly helped anybody out. I wondered if I was even in the right career path.”

Officer Colvin, at that moment, knew without a doubt he had made the right career choice. He then learned that his choices led Klynn to make a unique career choice of her own!

Klynn’s Career Path

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

Inspired by her childhood hero, Klynn Scales revealed to Colvin that she applied to be a police recruit in Houston. His heroics had led her down her own path to become a police officer and work to make a positive impact on the lives of those around her.

The surprises didn’t end there. Scales had been dreaming of this reunion for twenty years. Not only was Colvin her childhood hero and career inspiration, he was like a surrogate father to her. With that, she had one more thing to tell him.

Klynn’s Tribute To Colvin

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

As soon as Klynn learned the name of her hero, she had a bracelet made with the words, “Sgt. Jeff Colvin ‘A True Hero'” engraved on it. She said she got the bracelet to honor her hero and friend, reiterating she sees him as her “guardian angel.”

The story of Klynn and Colvin proves the positive power that police officers can have on communities and individuals. Klynn isn’t the only person who has ever had her life changed by an officer, something she found out when her story went viral.

Klynn’s Story Went Viral

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

Knowing there are few things as powerful for police stations as community outreach, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department shared the story online. Her story went viral instantly, with many people inspired to share their own amazing stories about police officers.

Not surprisingly, several commentators shared their own stories about Sgt. Colvin and the amazing things he had done for them. As it turns out, Klynn’s life wasn’t the only one he saved after all his years on the streets. He was a true local Kansas City hero.

The Support Was Incredible

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

In today’s world, police officers aren’t always treated with respect, and the overwhelming support Klynn and Colvin received was incredible. One comment read, “I have great respect for all police, though some deserve it more than others.”

In this case, no one deserves more respect than Jeff Colvin for the time and care he took in protecting Klynn during her time of need. And Klynn has now made it her life’s mission to pay it forward.

Klynn’s Future Is A Reflection Of Her Past

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

Talking about her plans for the future, Klynn chooses to focus her attention on the past, “I hope one day I can becomes someone’s hero, or make a positive impact like you [Colvin] did mine.” With two kids of her own, Scales plans to start with them.

Then, with her new career, she plans to become an even bigger hero. Colvin’s heroics showed her there was light in the dark. Now she sees it as her job to “pay it forward” and show a new generation of lost souls that there is hope.

The Story Comes Full Circle

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Klynn Scales/Facebook
Klynn Scales/Facebook

The story of Sgt. Jeff Colvin and Klynn Scales is one of sadness turned into happiness. It stands as proof that there’s good in the world, and there are people committed to being good. This is important to remember, especially during tough times.

After graduating from the police academy, as of June 2018, Klynn is officially a police officer. Can you guess who was in the audience cheering her on? Jeff Colvin and his wife, along with Jennifer Jones all showed up to congratulate Klynn on her accomplishment.