Sometimes, seemingly unimportant places are important to us because of the memories that they hold. For Rich Morgan, that place was Steve’s Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Not only did Morgan think that Steve’s Pizza was delicious, but he also had fond memories of eating there with his wife at the beginning of their marriage. Later, he and his family moved away from Battle Creek and settled in Indianapolis. But he still dreamed of eating pizza from Steve’s again.
But the Morgans found out they wouldn’t have time for a trip.
Unfortunately, Rich wouldn’t be able to go back. In 2016, he was diagnosed with cancer. He quickly began to take a turn for the worse and ended up in hospice care. He and his wife, Julie, had hoped to make a trip back to Battle Creek to walk down memory lane, but with Rich so sick, they knew it wouldn’t be possible.
He asked for a card and got so much more.
That was when 18-year-old Dalton Shaffer stepped in.
Shaffer, a Steve’s manager and the grandson of the original owner, was working on a Tuesday night when he answered a call to the store. It was Rich’s father-in-law, David Dalke, who explained the situation. He was hoping that the store would extend a kind gesture, like a card, to let Rich know he had their support during his last days. But Shaffer decided to do the family one better.
“He was kind of telling me just a little bit about how they used to live in Battle Creek and they were just really big fans of Steve’s Pizza,” Shaffer said.
Steve’s doesn’t usually offer delivery.
However, he took an order from Dalke for two pizzas.
Dalke said he was astounded that Shaffer would offer to do a kind deed so spontaneously. At first, he wasn’t sure that he had been clear: He was in Indianapolis, more than 200 miles away. But Shaffer was clear that he understood. Dalke put in an order for two pepperoni and mushroom pizzas. Then, when the store closed for the night, Shaffer got in his car and made the long drive from Battle Creek to Indianapolis.
It was the last thing the family expected in the middle of the night.
He arrived at the Morgan home at 2:30 in the morning, to the shock of Julie. The family had no idea that such a meaningful meal was on its way.
“[Twenty-five] years ago we lived in Battle Creek, MI. We were young and money was tight but every pay day, Rich would pick up Steve’s Pizza for dinner,” Julie wrote on Facebook. “I can’t possibly describe how delicious this pizza is – but several moves and all these years later, it is still the gold standard and we’ve never found a better pizza yet.”
Julie said that she and her husband had hoped to go back to Battle Creek to enjoy the sights and talk about the old times they’d enjoyed there. But more than anything, they wanted to go back and share a meal at Steve’s again. Their plans were canceled when she suddenly had to rush her husband to the emergency room. There, they learned that he had weeks or even days left to live.
Morgan’s final slice of Steve’s pizza was more special than they could have imagined.
Shaffer’s kind gesture gave them another happy memory together in the midst of a difficult time.
The family asked him if they could put him up in a hotel for the night, but Shaffer declined, saying he had to work again the next day. He hopped back in his car and made the 3.5-hour drive back to Battle Creek. The total trip lasted seven hours and 450 miles.
As for Shaffer, he will never forget that delivery.
Rich passed away on Oct. 20, 2018, after suffering from cancer for two years.
“He fought so hard and dealt with his illness with incredible grace, courage and humor,” Julie said. “He was a man of faith and integrity who was always driven to do the right thing. There are no words to express how deeply we loved and admired him, and how much he loved us in return.”
Julie said she is incredibly grateful for Shaffer and hopes he will be an inspiration to others. His willingness to deliver a couple of pizzas to a man in hospice gave the Morgan family a memory they will never forget.
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