For decades, the Whitey’s Ice Cream shop in Moline has been a beloved destination in the Illinois community. The manager, Rhonda VanDyke, has instilled in her staff a sense of kindness and generosity that has spread to their customer base. In 2015, Brenden McGee was 16 years old when he got himself an after-school job at Whitey’s. It was his very first “real” job, but it didn’t take him long to put Rhonda’s standards of kindness to good use.
Just three weeks into the job, a crying woman drove up to the drive-thru window during Brenden’s shift. It took her a few times to speak clearly through her tears, but Brenden realized this upset customer wanted to order a shake. Brenden handed it to her and said, “Your shake is on me tonight. You have a good night.” The woman smiled at the teen through her tears, then drove off.
Since he figured it was a such a small act of kindness, Brenden forgot about the quick interaction and returned to business as usual. But a few days later, that same woman returned to Whitey’s and asked to speak with Brenden’s manager. At first, Rhonda was worried the woman wanted to lodge a complaint against him. But instead, she learned why the woman was so upset on the day he served her.
As it turned out, the woman was in mourning. Her husband passed away just weeks before she pulled up to the drive-thru, and she was having a hard time. The woman was so touched by Brenden’s gesture of paying for her shake that she asked Rhonda if he could get recognition. Rhonda told the woman there was no Employee of the Month in place, but that she would tell the office about Brenden’s act of kindness.
The administrative staff at Whitey’s placed a note under Brenden’s employee file. They also placed a handmade sign (pictured above) in the back room, which made the grateful woman extremely happy. “It definitely is better to be kind and polite … we automatically have to be polite to people, but it’s always nice to go that extra mile,” Brenden told KWQC.
Two months after his good deed went viral and gained national attention, Brenden was diagnosed with cancer — but that didn’t stop him from continuing to perform acts of kindness.
People from all over the world donated to Brenden’s fight through GoFundMe and Facebook. Brenden also received four years tuition at the University of Iowa because he was patient under 18. However, Brenden realized that young patients over 18 were “getting over-looked.” In an effort to show no one should fight alone, Brenden and his mom, Marcy, connected with a local family with a 20-year-old student and cancer patient, and organized a trip for them to go to Disney World.
After completing several rounds of chemotherapy, Brenden announced he was cancer-free in March 2016.