FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A few plates of pancakes, and a spontaneous act from a shy teen girl, have created a moment that has law enforcement officers talking around the world.
15-year-old Kayleigh Nava didn’t intend for anyone to know about what she did.
But Fort Worth police officer Nick Maddock couldn’t keep from telling the entire department about it.
“It means a lot,” he said Thursday. “It really reaffirms why we’re out here.” Maddock had just finished eating with two partners Monday at the IHOP on Eastchase in Fort Worth.
When they were ready to pay the bill, the server told them it was already taken care of.
The officers asked if they could know who paid, so they could thank the donor, and the server pointed them toward a booth of teen girls.
“We didn’t understand exactly what was going on and she pointed to the group of young girls who couldn’t have been more than 15-years-old,” Maddock said.
Kayleigh started tearing up when the officers approached, and Maddock said the group still wasn’t sure what was happening.
Then a woman with the group explained who Kayleigh was. Her dad was Hank Nava, an officer who was shot and killed on duty in 2005, and a hero in the department.
“It took us all by surprise, you know,” Maddock said “it was really touching”
Kayleigh Nava was just having fun with her friends that night. She was with a group that surprised a friend for her birthday. They ended up at IHOP for ice cream. When the group saw the police, she said she told the girls they were her friends, even though they had never met. And then she just decided to pay their bill. Just like that.
“You just get the warm fuzzy feeling in your conscience and just, decide to do it,” she said. “They’ve been there for us and always helped us whenever we needed help and just say thank you for all they do no matter what it is.”
Everyone thought it was over after a few thank yous. Nava didn’t even tell her family. But Maddock sent a quick message about what happened to anyone logged on to police computers that night. They sent it to other officers. It made its way onto police blogs. And now Teresa Nava-Salazar, Hank’s widow, said she’s seen comments from officers as far away as Brazil.
“It made me proud,” she said Thursday. “It made me proud that she could see them and do something that could touch their heart.”
It all happened during National Police Week, and the week Hank Nava would have turned 45.
Nava-Salazar said Kayleigh’s gift was something her father would have done.
“She has that. She has that giving heart, loving heart that he had.”