WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — While most people come to the gym to make their bodies stronger the general manager at Planet Fitness in Woonsocket is also strengthening spirits.
In his life, Dan Cote has had to do some heavy lifting.
“I ended up under foster families and group homes, more group homes though because even with foster families I argued, I acted out,” Cote said.
A childhood of instability leads to an adulthood of isolation.
“I wasn’t really a people person, per se I guess, I really just stuck to myself,” Cote said.
But a change in attitude leads to a promotion. From working third shift to general manager. And Cote found himself opening up.
“I started interacting with the members here,” Cote said.
He developed a special connection with one member in particular.
C.J. Wagner is a 22-year-old Burrillville man with down syndrome and a passion for fitness.
“It’s his thing like he loves it like he breathes working out,” Cote said.
Last month, C.J. showed up to the gym a little unprepared.
“None of us connected that he didn’t have the right footwear on,” C.J.’s caregiver Lisa Simpson said.
Without sneakers, he had to change-up his typical workout. But Cote wouldn’t have that. So he went down the street and bought C.J. a brand new pair of sneakers.
“I think it was just surreal it was just unbelievable that somebody would do that for somebody that he doesn’t really know,” Simpson said.
She captured the heartwarming moment on video and it quickly went viral, with nearly two-hundred thousand views.
“The position I’m in now, I feel like I need to give back because I didn’t have everything,” Cote said.
“It’s not something that typically happens in your day to day life that people are that kind,” Simpson said.
Cote hopes the gesture inspires others to reach out and practice kindness.
“One kind thing a day just to, would just oh, would just change this life,” Cote said.
You can watch the entire video of Dan’s kindness right now.