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Men Play Cruel Prank on 8-Year-Old at Target - Little Did He Know There Was Much More to Come
8-Year-Old Gets $400 Shopping Spree After Men Play a Prank on Him at Target
Uplifting News

Men Play Cruel Prank on 8-Year-Old at Target - Little Did He Know There Was Much More to Come

Boy with hearing loss gets a sweet surprise after cruel prank.

It’s a sad truth that mean people do exist in the world.

Unfortunately, an eight-year-old boy and his father experienced such mean people firsthand when they were shopping at a Target in Southington, Connecticut.

But while the incident got them down, the kindness and goodness of strangers rallying around them quickly picked them up.

A Chance Encounter

little boy standing with shopping cart filled with toys

When Gabe and T.J. Lyles II went on a quick shopping trip this past summer, they were surprised when three men approached them. The strangers claimed to be from the good-deeds YouTube channel MrBeast, who is known for helping out those in need.

The men reportedly wanted to know if Gabe would be interested in a fill-your-cart challenge. Why? Because he has bilateral severe-to-profound hearing loss.

“Whatever was in the cart, they would pay for,” Lyles explained to the Washington Post of the 30-second challenge. “My little guy really wanted to do that.”

According to Lyles, his son “lit up like a Christmas tree” because he’s a huge fan of MrBeast. “One of his main dreams is to be a YouTuber, and he wants to be famous. He thought this was his chance.”

A Challenge Gone Wrong

exterior of a Target store
Photo by Shabaz Usmani on Unsplash

As the men were detailing the rules of the challenge, Lyles said Gabe leaned in closer to hear and explained he is partially deaf. “That’s exactly who we're looking for,” the father recalls one man saying.

Lyles was skeptical, especially when a Target employee couldn’t confirm the legitimacy of the challenge. But he agreed to do the challenge with his son in the end. Then, as they were blindfolded and filling their carts up with items, his heart sank as he heard the men run away.

“At that point, I’m taking off my blindfold, and I now have to tell my son that he got pranked,” Lyles recalled. The men weren’t a part of MrBeast, and the whole thing was a fake. “He’s in tears, and I’m trying to calm him down,” Lyles continued. “He’s a very loving kid. He wants to see the best in people.”

Lyles was also upset, and he wasn’t about to just forget about what happened. He went on social media to share the story and his anger about how those random men thought it was funny to target his son.

“I do not know what type of sick individual targets kids with special needs,” he wrote in the post. “I understand as an adult, I should have known better, but honestly, I did not think someone would be as disgusting to stoop that low.”

A Community Responds

Many were appalled to hear what happened to this little boy, and they wanted to help. (Even MrBeast is trying to track Gabe down.) The chair of the town’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities reached out to get the full story, then summoned her commission to allocate funds for Gabe.

They also went to Target, and the store agreed to match their $200 contribution to give the kid a real shopping spree.

“I cried on the spot,” Lyles said about the $400 gift when he found out. “I could not believe that they would do something that nice.”

Organizers arranged for the shopping spree right away, even though it was a long weekend. Gabe filled his cart with Nerf guns and water toys.

“Thank you so much, everybody, for making my dream come true,” Gabe said in a Facebook video from the Target parking lot, right after the shopping spree. “Thank you all who did this for me.”

“I’m so happy it ended this way for him,” the father added. “We hope it inspires people to do nice things for others.”

Kindness Always Wins

It’s awful to think about how sad Gabe felt and how angry and hopeless his father probably was after these men tricked them.

But it’s also heartwarming to see how others responded and how in the end, Gabe learned that there are more good people than bad out there in this world.

It’s a reminder to all of us to always lead with kindness, no matter what we might be going through in our own lives. Smile at others and make them feel appreciated and seen. And do nice things for others, especially when they least expect it.

Because at the end of the day, we don’t know what other people are going through either. But by leading with compassion and kindness, we can at least do our part to make sure the world is a nicer place.

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