California teen steps up to help blind and deaf passenger, prompts viral response

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The images have evoked a viral response on the internet: a teenage girl helping a blind and deaf man and fellow passenger on an Alaska Airlines flight. 

It's the kind of story that many people have said has made their day and served as a much needed example of human kindness.

Alaska Air said California teen Clara Daly and her mother, Jane, were traveling home from Boston to Los Angeles last week.

Their flight was canceled, so the airline ended up booking them on another flight with a layover in Portland, Ore.

So it was by chance that the mother and daughter ended up on the same flight as passenger Tim Cook. 

The 64-year-old Oregon man is deaf and blind and was heading home to Portland where he's a resident of Brookdale Senior Living, according to an Alaska Airlines blog. He had been in Boston visiting his sister, who had assisted him to the boarding area.

But once on the plane, it was clear he was having great difficulty communicating with the flight attendants.

In a post that has been shared more than 700,000 times, passenger Lynette Scribner described how those on the flight really tried to help Cook and respond to his needs.

The man who was in the aisle seat next to Cook's middle seat, kindly gave up his spot for Cook and helped him with things like getting to the bathroom and putting creamer in his coffee, according to Scribner.

"The flight attendants sincerely wanted to assist him, but had no way to communicate," Scribner wrote. "I watched as they didn't flinch when he reached out to touch their faces and arms. They took his hand and tried so hard to communicate with him, to no avail."

Finally, flight attendants decided to make an announcement over the plane's loud speaker to see if any guests onboard knew American Sign Language (ASL).

It was then that Clara Daly stepped forward and came to Cook's aid.

"15 years old, she learned ASL because she had dyslexia and it was the easiest foreign language for her to learn," wrote Scribner. "For the rest of the flight she attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met. It was fascinating to watch as she signed one letter at a time into his hand," Scribner continued.

The teen told Alaska Airlines, “I sat with Tim a few times on the flight and toward the end for about 30 minutes. He just wanted to talk.”

Passengers in nearby rows who got to observe the teen and her new friend were moved by how she patiently helped him and were delighted to see that Cook was able to communicate with someone. 

"He was able to 'read' her signing and they carried on an animated conversation," Scribner wrote. "When he asked her if she was pretty, she blushed and laughed." 

The kind gesture of a teenager who stepped up to help another person in need prompted many who read Scribner's post to describe the moment as beautiful, heartwarming, and tear-jerking. 

"This is the way the world should be," responded one person. 

Another commented, "We take so much for granted....beautiful."

Scribner later expressed how touched she's been by the response this story has garnered. "We are all starving for good news and this was just what we needed," she wrote. 

Clara's mom said that at the end of their trip her daughter told her it was meant to be that their original flight was canceled and they ended up on Cook's plane so she was able to be there to help him.

As for Cook, he described the flight as the best trip he's ever taken.