Boy Rushes to Hug Stranger, Doesn’t Know He’s a Grieving Dad Who Lost His Daughter a Week Ago

An unexpected hug from a toddler improved a pizza delivery guy’s day, and although he is not religious, he couldn’t avoid thinking it was a message from heaven.

Most delivery guys don’t expect anything extraordinary from clients – a good tip and a thank you are enough. However, Ryan Catterson got a beautiful surprise during one night shift in 2020.

A doorbell camera captured the touching moment Catterson shared with a two-year-old boy, and when the toddler’s family shared it online, it went viral.

Lindsey and John Sheely's son, Cohen [left].  Cohen hugs Ryan Catterson in early 2020 |  Source: -

Lindsey and John Sheely’s son, Cohen [left]. Cohen hugs Ryan Catterson in early 2020 | Source: –


The clip shows Catterson, a Navy veteran working as a delivery guy for Wicked Good Pizza in West Warwick, Rhode Island, walking up to Josh and Lindsey Sheely’s porch with a pizza box and a bag of ranch dressing cups.

Lindsey opened the door, and her two-year-old son Cohen offered to grab the box. Knowing that the kid could accidentally drop the pizza, Catterson gave him the bag of ranch dressing cups and handed Lindsey the pizza.

She paid, tipped, and said thank you. The job was done, and it was just another regular pizza delivery until that point. But what Cohen did later shocked Catterson and the world.

Ryan Catterson talking about his late daughter in February 2020 |  Source:

Ryan Catterson talking about his late daughter in February 2020 | Source:

When the pizza man walked out, Cohen chased him and reached up to hug him. Catterson stopped, returned the hug, and told the boy to enjoy his pizza before Lindsey brought him back inside.

The Sheelys considered the exchange was adorable enough to share online, and it went viral. Even Catterson watched it and asked Lindsey if he could share it, too.

She said yes, but after checking Catterson’s Facebook page, her heart “just shattered.” Catterson had lost his 16-year-old daughter, Alyssa, the previous week.

Ryan Catterson and his late daughter, Alyssa |  Source:

Ryan Catterson and his late daughter, Alyssa | Source:

Alyssa struggled with her mental health and faced bullying at school. She died unexpectedly in California, where she lived with Catterson’s ex-wife. Since the coroner was involved, Alyssa’s funeral was delayed, adding to the grieving dad’s pain.

Catterson still had to pay the bills – he lived with his dad in a West Warwick apartment – so he had not gone to California to grieve with his ex-wife and two other children.

Being so far away from his family made him feel disconnected. Catterson had been telling his kids how much he needed hugs during that time, and that’s precisely what he got from Cohen.

The delivery guy and many others believed it was a message from Alyssa and the universe. The grieving dad admitted:

“After losing my daughter this past week, [Cohen’s hug] just touched me because it was like she was there. It meant a tone to me.”

Catterson said the cute exchange might have been Alyssa looking out for him, and the Sheelys agreed. They are Christians and believe God uses the “innocent love of children” to spread hope.

When the touching story went viral, people couldn’t stop praising the Sheelys for raising such a kind-hearted kid. Another Instagram user even called Cohen an “angel” and pointed out that the boy proved anybody could touch another person’s heart.

If you enjoyed this story, you’d love this one about another delivery driver. After reading his son’s letter to Santa asking for help, he couldn’t hold back tears. Read the entire story here.