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No one can understand deaf-blind man on flight until a 15-year-old girl grabbed his hands

In 2018, a man named Tim Cook (no, not THAT Tim Cook) took a flight from Boston to Los Angeles – and it was the best flight of his life.

It was June and aboard the same Alaska Airlines flight were 15-year-old Clara Daly and her mother Jane who were returning home after helping Jane’s mother move.

Cook, 64, had been assigned a middle seat during the trip.

But in order to make him more comfortable, one of his seatmates switched with him and he and another passenger tried to help with small things like helping him pour sugar in his coffee.

But being both blind and deaf, there was no other method of communication for him other than sign language – and no one on the flight crew had any experience with it.

That’s when the crew decided to make a preemptive announcement on the flight in case he needed more assistance.

“Does anyone on board know American sign language?” a flight attendant about an hour into the journey.

That’s when Clara got a chance to put her skills to use.

It turns out what they needed was someone who knew how to finger sign (which involves touching a person’s hands to spell out words – regular sign language wouldn’t be of much help to a blind man).

A chance encounter

Clara had been learning sign language for the previous year in the hopes that it would help with her dyslexia, so she reached up and pushed her call light.

“I wanted to help,” she told PEOPLE, “because that’s what people are supposed to do.”

She kneeled next to Cook’s seat at the front of the plane and finger signed a greeting: “How are you? Are you okay?”

That’s all it took for the two to become fast friends.

“He told me how he became blind — that it was a gradual thing that happened over time,” Clara said.

“He said that he’d once worked as a traveling salesman. We both have family in Boston, so we also talked about that, and he asked me what I wanted to do in my life.”

It turned out that Cook just needed someone to talk to. Imagine how hard it must be to be unable to communicate with most people.

Jane Daly says her daughter often jumps at the chance to help people.

She went and sat with Cook multiple times throughout the flight to check on him and chat.

“She volunteers at the local retirement home and plans on starting a sign language class with a friend to teach seniors who are hard of hearing,” Jane told PEOPLE. “In helping Tim, she doesn’t think she did anything special. She did what she believes any human should do.”

Going viral

Alaska Airlines published a heartwarming blog post about the incident.

But it was Cook’s 56-year-old seatmate Lynette Scribner of Seaside, Oregon, who drew the most attention to the heartwarming gesture.

She wrote about the situation in a (now removed) Facebook post that went viral.

“I wrote about this, thinking I was just sharing a sweet story with my friends,” Scribner told PEOPLE.

“Clara was so kind and genuine — she seemed to have no qualms about signing into Tim’s hands, and even though he couldn’t see her, she looked attentively at his face with such kindness.”

As for Cook, he’ll never forget Clara and how she turned his whole day around.

“I was in a bad mood before Clara helped,” he said, “and she was very sweet and nice.

She had very clear communication and we had a nice conversation. Best trip I’ve ever had.”

Be sure to scroll down to see more of the heartwarming story.

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