When a police officer pulled up to his local Hardee’s drive-thru for breakfast and heard what the employee said to him, he sat there speechless for a second — then, he took action.
Cody Yates, a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy in Madisonville, Tennessee, was going through a Hardee’s drive-thru one morning when he was left floored by the message the employee working the drive-thru window had for him as he pulled up to pay.
The Tennessee police officer was informed that the woman, who had been in the car in front of him but had since driven away, had covered the cost of his breakfast at the fast food drive-thru that day. However, Cody wasn’t content to just accept the free meal. He wanted to pay her back in his own way.
“Being in a small town, I started asking around and found out who she was,” Yates recalled. Her name was Angel Brooks, and with that little bit of information, the deputy was then able to track the woman down on Facebook. There, he discovered that her husband Jeff was fighting terminal pancreatic cancer, but that’s not all.
“Whoever pulls up behind me, just pay for his breakfast,” Angel Brooks had told the drive-thru worker. “We’ve been so blessed with people helping us out.” Angel wasn’t just talking about the help she had received since her husband’s diagnosis, but the many blessings bestowed on her family in light of her daughter’s condition as well. Not only did Angel’s husband have cancer, but her daughter Megan has cerebral palsy, too.
“It made me realize that about everybody that you come in contact with is worrying about all the small things in life,” Yates said. “That really don’t hold a candle to what some people are dealing with,” he added after discovering the difficult challenges that Angel was facing with both a sick husband, fighting for his life, and a sick child.
Deputy Yates realized that he wanted to pay Angel back in a big way. So, he asked his fellow officers to donate to Angel Brooks and her family. His co-workers were more than happy to oblige. In fact, the deputy collected $520 within an hour. But, he wasn’t done there.
Deputy Yates also got a few churches in the area to start collecting donations, according to WVLT. “It’s very overwhelming. I got teary-eyed. I’m not going to lie,” Jeff Brooks said when he found out what the officer and his community had done for his family.
“I broke down. I cried. I’m a big man, but I’ve got a big heart,” Yates said, while Angel added, “It really has touched me.” Angel’s act of kindness and Yates’ generosity also brought about something money can’t buy: The three of them quickly formed a connection, forging a friendship.
Unfortunately, Jeff Brooks only lived for 45 days after his cancer diagnosis, reminding us all that time is so precious. Just a few short weeks after meeting Cody Yates, Jeff passed away. But, in his last weeks, thanks to Yates, Jeff got to feel the love of not only his family and friends but his entire community as they rallied around his family. In his final days, it must have been comforting to know that his wife wouldn’t be alone after his death.