When Tim Cook, a 64-year-old resident at Brookdale Chestnut Lane Gresham, was flying home to Portland he didn’t know that he would meet 15-year-old Clara Daly, or that a photo of them would go viral on social media.
Cook is blind and deaf, so traveling requires a few extra elements of assistance, but that doesn’t stop him from doing it. He had the opportunity to go visit his sister in Boston, his first visit since moving to Brookdale in 2017. After his sister and a crew from Alaska Airlines helped him through the Boston airport and got him comfortably in his seat, he readied himself for the cross-country trek home.
While on the plane, the flight attendants did their best to communicate with Cook but weren’t able to. It was then that they decided to enlist the help of fellow passengers. Over the PA system, they asked if there was anyone who knew American Sign Language (ASL). They were surprised to find that help came from 15-year-old passenger, Clara Daly. Daly has been studying ASL for the last year.
“I sat with him a few times on the flight,” said Daly. “Toward the end, it ended up being for about 30 minutes. He just wanted to talk.”
Cook and Daly carried on a conversation for the duration of the flight with Daly sign-spelling into his hand.
Fellow passenger, Lynette Scribner, captured a heartfelt moment between the duo and posted it on Facebook. The post has received more than 164,000 likes and 98,000 shares.
According to Alaska Airlines, the Daly family was supposed to be on a different flight but it was canceled. “After the flight, Clara told me she thought it was meant to be that our original flight was canceled and we were placed on this flight, so she could be there to help Tim,” said Clara’s mom, Jane Daly.
Cook’s hope was that someone on the trip home would at least know the alphabet in sign language, but he was blessed with more than he hoped for. “This was the best trip I’ve ever had,” he said.
Note: The story continued to grow and be shared over the weekend. The Facebook post was liked by more than 1.2 million people and shared more than 670,00 times. TV stations across the country broadcast versions of the story more than 525 times in the last four days. Hundreds of online media outlets, including USA Today, The NY Times, CNN and Inside Edition, covered the story. Tim was interviewed by the following Portland news stations: KGW8 and KATU.