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After their infant daughter, Glory, died at just 9 weeks old, Fort Worth, Texas couple Debbie and Shaun Riddle’s story went viral when a 21-year-old waitress at one of their favorite eateries paid their check and left behind a kind note, offering sympathy for their loss.
Now Debbie is paying the waitress’ act of kindness forward, creating a GoFundMe site in attempt to raise $20,000 for a scholarship fund in her daughter’s memory.
“One day recently I was going through Glory’s clothes and came upon her onesie that read, ‘kisses 25 cents, I’m saving for my college fund.’ She only got to wear that outfit once. When she wore it, the thought never crossed my mind that her life would be cut so short and she would never have the chance to attend college,” Debbie told TODAY Parents. “That’s when I got the idea to start a college scholarship fund in her memory.”
Debbie says she knew immediately that she wanted Kayla Lane, the waitress who initially paid her check, to benefit from the scholarship fund. After asking around, Debbie learned that Kayla was not the only West Side Café employee working a full time job and putting herself through school.
“There is something special about West Side — they are like a family and they treat all of their customers like family as well. We need more people like that excelling and becoming an intricate part of today’s society. Our family wanted to help lessen the burden of their student loans and long work hours,” said Debbie.
Kayla Lane says she and her fellow café employees are touched by the Riddles' kindness and willingness to help.
“College is hard, but the most difficult part about college is the financial aspect. Will I have enough for tuition? Will I have enough for books? Will I be able to work enough to pay my bills and still maintain a good GPA? What Debbie is doing will not only help me, but the dozens of students that are involved with the West Side Café,” said Lane.
Tracey Sanford owns the West Side Café, and says the scholarship fund could be life-changing for his employees, many of whom are struggling to work, raise a family, and attend college on the side. Still, Sanford says he’d expect nothing less from his staff than the acts of kindness and consideration they are known for.
“We are an old-school, traditional southern café. (Our customers) are our neighbors — they are a part of our family,” said Sanford. “We are honored to contribute to the memory of baby Glory. We never want to forget what this is really all about.”
Debbie says managing the scholarship fund will help her do just that.
“The loss of a child is something no parent ever expects will happen to them," she said. "Keeping Glory’s memory alive, while sometimes painful, is what I have to do to keep going every day. The memorial fund, made possible through the kindness and loving support of others’ donations, will keep her memory alive and strong through all of the students she will be able to help.”