It’s a dark and stormy night when Lieutenant Colonel Robert Risdon and his co-coach Jason Gibson walk into Taco Bell in Mobile, Alabama. As a coach for the Columbus Lions and a football team in Georgia, Risdon had just wrapped up a tiring weekend and wanted to relax.
However, as a storm had broken out, the duo had no other option but to find shelter at a nearby Taco Bell. The restaurant is packed full of people seeking refuge from the rain. This is when Risdon decides to order his meal and finds a place to sit, anticipating the chance to relax and enjoy his food.
However, two young boys dressed all in black catch his eye. Soaking wet from the rain, they approach the cashier before making a desperate move that draws Risdon’s attention again. As Risdon watches, the boys quickly come to other tables, receiving rejection after rejection.
They then spot Risdon in his uniform and decide to talk to him. Surprisingly, they ask him to buy candy, discreetly showing him a bag of baked goods. Though he has no cash, Risdon is intrigued, and as they begin to walk away dejectedly, he calls them back to find out why they are selling candy.
Upon learning that the boys were raising money for their local church and noticing they were hungry and wet from the rain, Risdon decides to help them. He offers to treat the kids to anything on the menu for free. Moreover, he even spoke to their grandfather to ensure they were not misusing the church’s funds.
Risdon and Gibson are struck by their respectfulness and manners as the boys eat the tacos. The youngest brother, BJ, 9 years old, salutes Risdon with his left hand while holding a taco in his right. Risdon corrects him, teaching him the proper way to salute. The little boy then expresses his admiration for the army and talks about how much he wants to be like him.
The encounter is captured on video by Gibson, who posts this moment online, leading to its popularity. Later when people ask Risdon why he helped the kids, he says, “My kids were running through my mind the whole time. The thought of my kids in their situation broke my heart, making me react and want to help the boys; the least I could do was buy them some tacos.”
While small in the grand scheme of things, this gesture has a profound impact. It highlights how a simple act of kindness could turn a dark and stormy night into a heartwarming story of human connection.