Not everybody has the courage to run into danger, especially at the risk of their own safety. Sean Campbell wasn’t afraid when he heard the desperate screams of someone crying for help in the middle of his workday. Instead, the 23-year-old dropped everything and jumped into action.
Sean, an Amazon delivery driver, was just finishing up a long workday in December of 2020. He’d been driving around for hours dropping off a slew of packages, which left his back in pain. Luckily, he had just one delivery left to go.
Sean pulled up to a neighborhood in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. He parked the truck, went around back, and removed the last of his workload. He skillfully piled the packages on top of one another and, with full hands, made his way to the final destination.
Sean’s muscles shook as he balanced the packages. All he could think about was the end of his shift and the start of his weekend. It was Friday, after all! That’s when he heard the screaming.
Sean’s focus immediately shifted when he heard someone in terror. “I heard the screaming, and when you hear something like that, you have to go to it,” Sean later told WESH. With that, he dropped his boxes and bolted toward the source!
As Sean got closer, he began to understand what was happening. High above the rooftops was a swirl of dark smoke. Soon, bright orange flames were coming into view. He was heading straight for a fire!
Sean finally made it to the burning house. As he searched for the source of the crying, he noticed two people standing outside. One woman was in a total panic. Sean would quickly find out why.
The woman, who’d just been rescued by her neighbor, was crying for her husband who was still trapped inside. The neighbor was too afraid to face the flames again, but Sean was feeling brave. He did what few strangers would even consider.
Sean ran to the building and saw the flames towering above him. What if he made his way into the fire and the man hadn’t survived? Sean might get stuck in the inferno himself. But, quickly, Sean shook off his fears and went for the door.
The knob was warm and wouldn’t turn. With sweat pouring down his face, Sean began ramming his body against the door. He kicked and thrashed until, finally, he ripped the door off the hinges. With that, he ran inside to search for the man.
The house was filled with a smokey haze. Sean yelled out to the man, but there was no response. Perhaps I’m too late, thought Sean. Then, he entered the kitchen and gasped.
There was the elderly man standing alone, holding onto his walker for dear life. “I don’t think he really knew what was going on,” Sean later told WESH. “I was like, ‘Sir, c’mon. I need to help you. C’mon, let’s get out.” But the man wouldn’t budge.
Sean could tell the elderly gentleman was confused. To get him to move, Sean would have to be calm and rational. The old man, still in a daze, insisted on grabbing his walker, but Sean knew that wouldn’t suffice.
“I was like, ‘No, we got to move… you’ve got to see another day!” said Sean, trying to move the old man along without hurting him. As the old man shuffled, smoke billowed into the hallway. If they didn’t hurry, they could both end up passing out!
As the old man continued to shuffle along, Sean considered picking him up. But any physical damage would make the entire ordeal pointless. Slowly and hastily, Sean led the old man to the front door.
Finally, the pair made it through the doorway! Flames gathered behind them as they made their triumphant exit. The woman who’d been screaming was now crying with joy. Moments later, firefighters arrived on the scene. That’s when they realized one family member was still missing.
Still inside the house was the elderly couple’s dog! Fortunately, the delivery driver didn’t have to go back into the burning home. Sean was shocked to witness the arriving firefighters rescue the pup in less than two minutes. As for the house, it was simply too late.
The couple’s home was no longer livable. Thankfully, they were able to move in with their grandson, whose father, Tim West, was in shock after hearing about his parents’ rescue. Tim was beaming as he spoke to WESH:
“It was fantastic [that] he was both here and able to go inside, and brave enough to go inside,” Tim told WESH of Campbell. “We really appreciate that!” Even Amazon spoke up about Campbell’s brave actions.
“We love hearing stories about drivers being everyday heroes for our customers and the communities they serve,” said Amazon. “Everyone at Amazon was touched by Sean going above and beyond to help someone in need, and we’re excited to celebrate and thank him for his great efforts.” Sean’s response was humbling.
“I’m thankful I got the people inside out,” Sean told WESH, both relieved and heartened to have helped someone in need. He knew the situation could have been even worse. Not everybody has the courage to run into danger, especially at the risk of their own safety. But many delivery drivers have stepped up in big ways to help people on their routes — especially during the pandemic.
As a delivery driver, it’s part of the job to move quickly and efficiently, all while putting the customer first. The pandemic made achieving this last goal no small feat since it has made actual driver-to-customer interactions rare. One day, however, fellow driver Aubrey Robinson spotted something during a routine delivery that stopped her in her tracks: An 11-year-old in desperate need of assistance.
In the early hours of the morning, Coledo Wheeler woke up to a familiar sound: a basketball bouncing in her driveway. She wasn’t surprised when she looked out her window and saw her 11-year-old son, Elijah Maines, shooting hoops in his pajamas. There were no signs this wouldn’t be an ordinary day.
In fact, most people knew that Elijah’s favorite place was around the old, rusty basketball hoop in his driveway. Even the family’s local FedEx driver, Aubrey Robinson, was used to seeing the boy with a basketball in his arms. But over time, Robinson started to notice something.
Though Elijah’s basketball skills improved each day, the basketball hoop he used did not. Each time Robinson made a delivery, the rusted and bent hoop looked even worse. With that, Robinson hatched a plan.
Little did Robinson know her act of kindness — one some people would see as small — made a world of difference to Elijah and his mother. 2020 was a rough year for everyone, but their family had been hit particularly hard, and in ways Robinson wasn’t even aware of.
The family had lost four relatives, Coledo’s boyfriend was laid up with serious injuries, and her own car had been totaled, all in one year. Add in the stress of the pandemic and schooling from home, and you get one family in serious need of cheering up. Thankfully, Robinson was happy to oblige.
Soon enough, Robinson vowed, Elijah would have the hoop of his dreams. “It was crazy to me how happy he was with the bent-up, broken hoop,” she told CNN. “Every time I saw him he was so joyful playing basketball. Seeing him so happy stuck with me.” So, she went out in search of the perfect basketball hoop.
In fact, Robinson knew all too well how important sports can be in a kid’s life. “When I heard he had a rough year but he was playing basketball so happily, I wasn’t so shocked because I’ve been there,” she said. According to Robinson, her childhood wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
“I was bullied for years in school,” she revealed. “So basketball was really an oasis.” Her idea to give Elijah a brand-new hoop was actually inspired by a good deed from her own childhood days, when a friendly neighbor did something similar for her.
“I had a neighbor install a basketball hoop for me across the street because he knew how much I loved it,” she remembered. “I would go down there for hours and just be shooting hoops.” She had no clue just how much the sport meant to Elijah, though.
Robinson was by no means a millionaire, but that didn’t stop her from going out and buying Elijah the basketball hoop he deserved. With a gleaming white net, nearly-indestructible backboard, and an adjustable stand, all the hoop needed was someone to use it — someone like Elijah.
On the day she had the brand new hoop installed, Robinson left a short note for Coledo. “Just wanted you and your son to have the best hoop that’ll grow with him and all his friends,” she wrote. Instead of signing her name on the note, she simply signed it from “one of the FedEx drivers in the area.”
However, her efforts to give the gift anonymously didn’t exactly go off without a hitch. “I read the note, and the moment I realized who it was from, I just immediately started to cry,” Coledo told CNN. She wanted to thank Robinson in person, but there was just one problem.
Robinson was nowhere to be found. As the holiday season geared up, Robinson’s delivery schedule got more hectic, and she wasn’t able to return to Coledo and Elijah’s neighborhood for weeks. Still, she could imagine Elijah’s reaction to seeing the new hoop…
Robinson wasn’t there to see it, but when Elijah got home from school and saw the new hoop, his immediate reaction said it all. “He got teary-eyed but he’s an 11-year-old boy so he really didn’t want to admit he was crying,” Coledo recalled. Elijah himself couldn’t help feeling stunned by the kindness.
“When I saw [Robinson] got me a new hoop, I was shocked, just totally shocked,” he said. “It was crazy she randomly did it for me when she could have done it to anyone else.” Of course, Elijah’s shock quickly turned to gratitude, and he wanted Robinson to know just how grateful he was.
A few weeks after the surprise, Robinson finally found herself doing deliveries in the family’s neighborhood. When she knocked on their door, she was greeted with a huge hug from Coledo. “Elijah saw her and ran to her and hugged her too,” Coledo told CNN. Elijah even had a surprise of his own for Robinson.
Elijah gave her a handmade thank-you card to show how thankful he was for her kindness. Coledo told Robinson all about her family’s difficult year, and about how Robinson’s small gesture made a bigger impact on the family than she ever could’ve imagined.
“We’re so humbled and grateful she would do this for us,” Coledo said. “This has been a huge, huge thing for our family.” After having the same dented basketball hoop for nine years, Elijah was dying to take the new one for a spin — with Robinson’s help, of course.
Elijah, Robinson, and Elijah’s 9-year-old brother played basketball together for almost an hour, each of them in their element. “I really bonded with the boys,” Robinson said. No doubt remembering her own childhood, Robinson realized that the hoop meant more to her than she originally thought.