A teenage pizzeria employee has proved, once again, that a seemingly small act of kindness can have a major impact.
Dalton Shaffer, the manager of Steve's Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan, pulled into the Morgan family's driveway in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 13 with two of the couple's favorite pies.
Richard Morgan, who is in hospice care with just days live, and his wife Julie were asleep, but their family accepted the delivery and thanked Shaffer before he drove 230 miles back home.
Richard and Julie Morgan lived in Battle Creek 25 years ago but, to this day, they still compare every pizza they taste to Steve's.
"We were young and money was tight but every pay day, Rich would pick up Steve's Pizza for dinner," Julie posted to Facebook Tuesday.
"I can't possibly describe how delicious this pizza is — but several moves and all these years later, it is still the gold standard and we've never found a better pizza yet. Rich has frequently critiqued other pizza as 'good but, it's no Steve's.'"
Today, the Morgans live in Indianapolis and their children are grown. The couple was planning a weekend getaway to Michigan for Julie's birthday to see the changing leaves and, more importantly, grab a slice of their favorite pie.
But, according to Julie's post, a devastating turn of events landed Richard in the Intensive Care Unit ahead of their planned vacation. The family learned Richard's battle with cancer was unexpectedly coming to an end.
"Rich is home under hospice care and we are enjoying every minute reminiscing and visiting with family and friends," Julie wrote.
What the Morgans didn't know is that Julie's father, David Dalke, called Steve's Pizza hoping to deliver a little light with a message from Steve's during a dark time. But because it was Shaffer who picked up the phone that Saturday night, Steve's delivered a lot more.
"I happened to be the pizza-maker that night and happened to answer the phone later in the evening," Shaffer, 18, told TODAY Food. "On the other end of the line was Dave, Julie's dad. He was telling me about what was going on with his family. He told me that his son-in-law had been sent home to die."
Dalke asked if Shaffer could send his condolences in a card or text to the Morgans on behalf of the pizzeria that's always held such a special place in their hearts.
Instead, Shaffer asked what toppings they preferred. Knowing they lived over 3 hours away in Indianapolis, Shaffer promised to make the delivery that night after he closed the store at 10 p.m.
"I really didn’t think twice about it. It was a spontaneous reaction from me I guess," Shaffer told TODAY Food. "When I rolled into the driveway at about 2:30, 2:40, the family was waiting up for me. The dad was there, and he came out and he gave me a hug."
Shaffer handed over two, slightly cold pies and, after politely declining Dalke's offer to put him up at a hotel, drove another 230 miles back home to make it in time for a morning shift at the farm where he's worked for five years. He's worked at Steve's Pizza for two years.
When asked whether he had done anything like this before, Schaffer was too humble to answer. But his mother, Michelle Shaffer, told TODAY Food he's always had "a heart of gold," from mowing neighbors' lawns to helping the elderly and homeless in his hometown.
"I just would like anybody reading or whatever to just think of the family," the teenage pizzeria employee told TODAY. "Ya know, pray for them. They're going to be going through a hard time."
"I am beyond overwhelmed and humbled by this act of genuine kindness. Dalton brought our family so much joy — and the best pizza in the world — at a really difficult time," Julie wrote on Facebook.
"While 'thank you' hardly seems adequate — from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Dalton from Steve's Pizza in Battle Creek, MI for making your epic middle of the night pizza delivery!"