Drea Williams was looking for brain supplements when she went down the vitamin aisle with her two kids last weekend.
But what the Egg Harbor Township mom instead found inspiration and a moment of pure kindness.
Andre Davis had just come from Planet Fitness when he saw a little boy in a hockey uniform looking up at him at the Mays Landing store.
“He’s looking at me like, ‘Wow, this guy is big,'” said the 6-foot-5 Mays Landing man.
Davis first went to the boy’s mom, reaching out a hand and asking if the boy and his sister played sports.
“We had just left a tough loss at hockey,” Williams said, making the interaction even more significant.
“Play hard and don’t give up,” he told the 8-year-old.
The man offered advice on colleges and told eighth-grader Sophia to make sure to have a good relationship with her guidance counselor, because that is who would help with letters of recommendation to colleges.
Davis eventually brought the conversation back to Mom.
“Don’t forget mom’s right here,” Williams recalled him saying. “She’s doing this for you. She’s making it all happen. Don’t forget about her when you make it big.”
The mom made sure to get a photo before parting ways.
Then, she decided to share the interaction on her Facebook. A friend convinced her to share it to a wider audience, in an attempt to let the man whose name she didn’t know see what the moment meant.
“I wanted his mom or his wife or his daughter to just be proud of the dad, son and father they raised,” Williams said. “He’s a good man.”
She posted to the Original Egg Harbor Township Happenings Facebook page, known — she pointed out — for sometimes falling into drama and negativity.
This, she thought, would have universal appeal and possibly avoid any hate.
It went beyond that.
Over the weekend, she watched as other pages started sharing the post, and it “went a little viral.”
It also found a lot of people who knew Davis, and they weren’t surprised by the unprovoked motivational moment.
“I was his manager at Ocean Casino for a few years and he was the one person I’ll never forget,” one man wrote. “Nothing but positivity comes from this man and I’m glad he’s getting the recognition he deserves and never asks for.”
Davis works part-time security at the casino.
“My boyfriend and I met this man a few nights ago in Wawa,” wrote a woman. “He said his name was Dre and he is a security guard in AC. He was in Wawa joking around with us and was just so sweet! I think he’s a guardian angel.”
Eventually, Davis learned of the post himself.
He was at his job with Pleasantville Public Works when his boss called him. He also got calls from family.
“I read it,” Davis said. “It was very nice and sweet of her.”
He’s also been stopped at the Pleasantville Wawa he often frequents.
He said he’s overwhelmed by the response.
But Davis is glad that positivity is getting attention.
“It’s all about that,” he said. “You talk about good things and positive things and push people to the next level.”
It may even help him complete a dream.
Davis is looking to form Tunnel Vision, which plays off the idea that when people are going through tough, dark times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel to keep striving toward.
“First you’ve got to go through the obstacles, you’ve got to go through the work,” he said.
Davis, 52, looked to the light of others when he was growing up in Atlantic City, a “skinny kid” in the rough neighborhoods.
He turned to sports and looked at guys who went before him like Willie Glass and Lou Rowe, who both were drafted into the NBA.
He now is hoping to motivate kids like they did him.
“Those guys didn’t know how I looked up to them,” Davis said. “I want to help pull people into the light.”