Therra Gwyn Jaramillo said she was on the verge of an emotional breakdown Monday when a stranger came to her rescue in an unlikely place, and right when she needed it – in the checkout line of a Whole Foods store.
Since losing her husband to brain cancer in 2014, she said, she has struggled to make ends meet, taking care of four rescued dogs, two rescued cats and her elderly, blind chicken named Dixie.
A friend bought Jaramillo a gift card for groceries at a Whole Foods in the Atlanta area to help her out, she said. So she went shopping “with a dream of hummus and fresh food,” she wrote on Facebook, and special food for her dogs.
In the checkout lane, Jaramillo told CNN, she realized her items had been mixed in with those of the “handsome stranger” in line ahead of her. What she didn’t realize is the man was Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, the rapper and actor who calls Atlanta home.
“Whoa,” she said to the cashier. “Oh no, sorry, that’s mine. So sorry.” As they sorted out the discrepancy, the man suddenly said, “I might as well get it.”
Jaramillo said she nervously tried to stop the cashier scanning the items, realizing the $250 gift card wasn’t going to be enough. “I hadn’t added things in my head correctly,” she said on Facebook. “My head hasn’t worked all month due to stress.”
That’s when the man said, “I got this,” Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo said she couldn’t believe the kind gesture taking place right before her eyes. The size of the kindness: $375, the total bill.
“I stared wide-eyed at this handsome young African-American man, this stranger, as if he’d just dropped through the ceiling like a black James Bond,” she said on Facebook.
The stranger now introduced himself as Chris, and as he asked Jaramillo about the dogs she rescues, she began to cry.
“They’ll make sure you get all this out to your car, OK? Do you need any help?” he asked.
“I was crying so much that I wouldn’t have even been able to recognize Elvis,” Jaramillo told CNN. She recalled staring at him, thinking, “Does this guy know he’s an angel?”
It wasn’t until the man left that the cashier identified him as Ludacris.
CNN’s attempts to reach Ludacris for comment were unsuccessful.
Throughout all of her financial hardships, Jaramillo said, she has believed in the power of paying it forward. She is urging everyone to follow Ludacris’ example.
“You never know a stranger’s full story when you reach out a hand and yank them into a better place,” she said.