'Daddy in Seat 16C': Internet sensation Kate will steal your heart

January 15, 2014 9:16:13 AM PST
Meet Kate.

She loves turtles, hugs, and Buzz Lightyear. And she gets absolutely giddy on the spinning tea cups at Disney World.

When an iPad- and document-laden businessman sat next to the 3-year-old on a recent plane trip, her mom was worried. Would this stranger and her daughter, who has autism, be at odds? But the man immediately joined in Kate's playtime, which her mom found endearing.

So did the Internet.

Mom Shanell Mouland keeps a blog about her experience raising Kate. Her posts range from informative but pointed Q&As with "Kate" (read: Shanell) to candid reflections about her daily ups and downs.

"I have been honest on my blog," said Mouland in an email. "I swear and cry and scream when I need to. I tell the warm and fuzzy stuff when it happens, too."

Mouland's warm and fuzzy post about Kate's friend in Seat 16C has gone viral, soaring past 60,000 likes on Facebook.

It was on a flight back from Disney World that Kate found her unlikely play date. In the post, Mouland talks about her surprise at the stranger's patience with Kate's friendly mannerisms, which included calling him "daddy."

Looking back, she said her initial apprehension taught her something, too.

"I didn't want him to sit by Kate because I thought he would put his earphones in and work on his iPad while ignoring her, which would have upset her greatly." she said. "I guess I could take some of my own advice."

Mouland said the two adults have even kept in touch and that they are both amused by the attention.

Though she's grateful for the press, Mouland said that the increased traffic won't go to her blog's head:

"Last week I was talking to 800 people and now I am talking to 800,000," she said. "My story hasn't changed even if my outreach has."

Good. The world could use more videos like the one above.


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