Parenting is a full-time job. There are no breaks. So, when Courtney Ruth Pedigo, an overworked new mom, made plans for a dinner out with her father, stepmother, and 18-month-old at Olive Garden in Greensboro, North Carolina, she hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, her daughter, Harlynn, soon began getting angsty, trying to leave her mother’s lap and creating a scene. Pedigo’s hopes for a nice, relaxing meal out were crushed. Exasperated, she asked her waitress if she could have her food to go so she could eat in her car with her daughter. The server, Nianni Rudder, who sympathized with the overwhelmed mother’s plight, surprisingly said no.
“No, she’s not bothering anybody,” Rudder told Pedigo. “You’re going to go over there, you’re going to enjoy your dinner with your family, and I’m going to be over there in a second.”
Minutes later, Rudder returned with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. While Pedigo enjoyed a few bites of her food, the waitress fed Harlynn ice cream, wiping her hands and face as she went. The family amazed by Rudder’s kindness asked the server about herself. They discovered that in addition working, Rudder is also attending school full-time at Shaw University to become an anesthesiologist, as well as recovering from her mother’s recent death.
Pedigo was so touched by the server’s compassion that she wrote a Facebook post about her experience in the hopes of publicly thanking Rudder for her kind-heartedness.
“Girl, you will never truly know how appreciative I am for tonight. I seriously admire you, not only because you took the time to bribe my bratty little human with sweets, so I could eat, but because you are so so strong! I know your mom is looking down from Heaven with the BIGGEST smile [because she is] so incredibly proud of the woman you are,” she wrote. “I aspire to be the go-getter you are, and like I told my dad on our way home, it has to take someone with a strong heart and mind to do what you do because I know I couldn’t! Thank you for your amazing service and for being so kind to us all!”
The post has been shared nearly 1,600 times and has received close to 900 comments. Ramona Moore, wrote, “What a beautiful thing to do. I pray she is repaid a hundredfold. Such a blessing,” while Sheri Tague, added, "Wonderful person. Very compassionate. Glad this Olive Garden let her do this for this family. Good for them. This waitress should be commended."
Rudder has been astonished by the response, saying that she only did what she hoped someone would do for her. She also urged people to be more compassionate with one another, adding that anyone with a heart would have done the same.
In honor of Rudder, her friend Kiera Hairston has started a GoFundMe page to help her with her tuition. She mentions that Rudder recently lost her mother to cancer and has no family close nearby, therefore, she must put herself through college. Hairston adds that Rudder has always worked three jobs to pay her tuition but will be unable to continue doing so next semester given the credit hours she must complete to finish her degree.
The campaign’s goal is to raise $5,000, which will help Rudder finish her studies. To donate, visit the page at gofundme.com.