Firefighter recognizes a kind stranger at the gym.

Sometimes, when you’re working out at the gym, you just want to do your own thing. After all, when you’re lifting weights and focusing on your reps, having someone come over for a casual chat can be all kinds of distracting.

So when one man showed incredible patience and kindness to a stranger with special needs who kept approaching him during his workout one day, it caught the attention of a firefighter. The firefighter was so touched by what he witnessed that he shared the story online, where it went viral.

A Workout Interrupted

two men working out at the gym

A firefighter named Ricky Derouen was getting his workout in at Planet Fitness in Pascagoula, Mississippi, one day when he noticed a man in an orange shirt doing his own workout. It wasn’t the workout that grabbed Derouen’s attention but the fact that a second man, later identified as Derek Medjesk, kept approaching him.

“A special needs man constantly approached him about 10 different times in a 45-minute time span with handshakes, hugs, questions and interactions,” Derouen recalled in a social media post, as per Yahoo News.

“Not only did this man smile, laugh, give him workout advice multiple times and joke back with him while getting in his own workout, but he didn’t care who was watching while doing it.”

Derouen was so touched that he began taking secret photos of the interaction, knowing he wanted to call attention to the kindness he was seeing.

“His patience, compassion and friendliness was next-level admirable,” Derouen continued.

A Memorable Day

When Derouen got home, he shared the story online with the purpose of others recognizing the man in the orange shirt and sharing some love for how he treated Medjesk.

“Towards the end of the workout, the special needs man approached me, pointed to the man in the orange shirt, and said, ‘That’s my friend,’ with a huge smile on his face,” Derouen continued in his post.

“The pics aren’t the best, but they were the best creeper pics I could take at the time, and this guy deserves recognition. The world needs more people like this man in the orange shirt, well done, sir.”

After several news outlets picked up the story and hundreds of thousands of others shared it wide on Facebook, the man in the orange shirt was identified as David Samuel.

Later, Samuel confirmed to The Sun Herald that he and Medjesk formed a friendship that day, and they have since worked out together. Samuel has shied away from the spotlight following the recognition, but he did tell the publication that the post going viral has been a nice boost.

“The best part is where all those people speak positive things,” Samuel said. “[The response] is a blessing.”  

Always Be Kind

Who knows what kind of mood Samuel was in that day at the gym or how he really felt about being interrupted by someone else during his workout. At the end of the day, he led with kindness, and it made a big difference in Medjesk’s life.

Not only that, but a beautiful friendship emerged from it, and the pair inspired thousands of other people in the process. It’s a nice reminder that it’s always important to be kind to others, no matter the circumstances.

After all, we never really know what other people are going through, or when we might need unexpected kindness in return.