Kitchener man pays $150 cab fare so woman can hug niece
by Cherri Greeno, Toronto Star.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002, page A2.
She calls him her angel and cries every time she thinks of him.
They are bittersweet tears because Linda Rowe knows if not for Orlando Da Silva, she wouldn't have had the chance to hug her niece that one last time.
"I thank God every day for him," said Rowe, of Elmira, as she reached across her couch and placed her hand on Da Silva's.
The two were first brought together on April 2 at a busy bus terminal in Kitchener. A terribly upset Rowe, 48, approached a line of passengers, asking if she could butt in front of them to get a ticket to Toronto. Her niece had fallen through a patch of ice and was in the hospital, she told them. She had to get there as soon as possible.
No one would let her in front of them except Da Silva, 33, who lives in Kitchener but works for the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais in Toronto.
The bus was scheduled to leave in four minutes and there were still nine people in front of Da Silva. He knew Rowe likely wouldn't make it.
"I wasn't going to take any chances," he said. "I went to the bank machine and we walked to the nearest cab."
During the $150 ride to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, they held hands and talked.
Rowe told him 10-year-old Valerie Hunt had fallen through a frozen pond near her home in Lakehurst, Ont. 30 kilometres north of Peterborough, while trying to save her German shepherd, Joe.
The story made Da Silva think of his own two-year-old daughter, Candace.
"I kept thinking of what if it was my daughter, how would I feel?" he said. "My heart was broken for that little girl."
He dropped Rowe off at the hospital, told her he would pay for the cab and pray for the family. He tried to carry on with his day, but all he could think about was the little girl.
A few hours later, he received a message on his answering machine. Valerie Hunt had died.
"I talked about it in my (Bay Street) office and we were all brought to tears," he said, covering his eyes with his hands. "She has been on my mind ever since."
And even though they never met, Da Silva, the angel, was in the thoughts of the entire Hunt family.
"I needed my sister and she was there because of him," said Caroline Hunt, Valerie's mother.
But Da Silva doesn't think what he did was anything out of the ordinary. Faced with a similar situation, he believes most decent people would do the same.
"At least I got to be there and see her," said Rowe, reaching out to give Da Silva a hug.
"I kept asking God for an angel and he sent me you."