Lake Orion football players pay forward stranger's kindness

One local high school football team paid it forward and the domino effect is still going.

- We have all heard of paying it forward in places like the checkout line or drive-thru window, but one local high school football team is taking it to a whole new level.

"We just kind of came in. It was like any normal dinner. We just came in and sat down and ate," says Ryan Kolp. But this time when six Lake Orion varsity football players sat down to eat at the Iris Cafe in Orion Township Tuesday night, something extraordinary happened, started by someone who happened to be watching.

Valerie Pement was running the register at the time.

"We had a gentleman come up to the register and ask if he could have the receipts for the six gentlemen sitting in the back," she says. "I asked, 'Do you know them? Do you have kids at that high school?' and he said, 'Nope.' He just wanted to pay for their bills."

And that bill wasn't cheap -- $87 -- but the man who paid it didn't want any thanks or even for the boys to know who he was. He just wanted to pass on a few words.

"I walked up and I said, 'I just want you guys to know that your bills were paid for,'" Pement says. "And the gentleman wanted to say, 'God bless you all.' One of the boys, in turn, said, 'No, God bless him.'"

"We were all very shocked," Kolp says. "But at the same time we were very appreciative. And the person said we looked like a nice group of young kids."

The football players lived up to their reputations. They didn't walk away; instead they each reached into their pocket and together gave $30 to the waitress to pay someone else's bill.

"We all decided to pass it forward and pay it on," Kolp says.

Erika Mendez was able to deliver the news to a couple first thing Wednesday morning.

"I told them they were paid for by the varsity football team of Lake Orion," she says. "I told them the story about last night and she said, 'That's amazing, that's never happened to me before ... and they're teenagers.'"

From there, it was like a chain reaction. One customer after another began picking up the tab for someone else.

"I had chills. I just thought that was  justsomething very special," Pement says.

"We were shocked," Mendez says "I told my boss, Ryan, that we were going on like table number 12 paid for and it just kept going and going."

Ryan and Jill Gageby own the Iris Cafe. By the end of the day they say 30 tables had paid it forward.

"We were just very proud," Jill says. "Especially because they were young boys. You don't hear about younger generations doing that so much. That made us very happy."

"From your example, people continued to pay it forward 30 times," FOX 2's Taryn Asher said, telling the players the good news.

"Oh wow, we didn't know that. That's incredible," Kolp says. "It makes us feel great that something that small can make that big of a difference."

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