Heartwarming act at Indiana tree farm spreads through social media

Ben Watt (back) laughs with joy as Kevin Rose prepares to “cut” down a Christmas tree for Watt and his mother, Julie, Monday night, Dec. 4, 2017, at Roehler’s Tree Farm in Centerville, Ind. (photo courtesy Julie Watt via Centerville News-Examiner)

CENTERVILLE, Ind. (News-Examiner) — For Julie Watt of Centerville, the plan Monday night was simply to stop by Roehler’s Christmas Tree Farm and pick up a pre-cut Christmas tree for her and her son, Ben.

Plans for Watt, however, don’t always go smoothly considering her son’s autism, and those well-laid plans Monday night soon started to go south while the duo was at the tree farm.

Until the kindness of Kevin Rose, a Wayne County resident and part-time employee of the tree farm, put those plans right back on track for Watt and her son – an act which has now become a Facebook sensation.

Watt detailed the experience in a Facebook post she put on her page Monday evening, after returning home from the tree farm.

“Apparently, my son had a thought in his head that we were going to go wander the fields admiring and comparing trees, then finally choose the premier tree – to which a man with a saw would come teetering out of the woods and cut it down,” Watts stated in her post. “Then, we’d hoist it on our backs so heftily, and march in from the field, covered in sawdust and sweat; tying it to the top of our car with pride, and driving home whilst singing carols.”

That vision wasn’t reality, though, given the field were the trees were at was muddy, both Watt and her son were hungry, it was beginning to rain, and she had a migraine on top of it.

“I was very ok with his plan not happening, but he was not,” Watt continued. “Convinced that all pre-cut trees are fakes, he started into a meltdown, refusing any tree that was not currently growing in a field. I realized we were not getting a tree today. Positive that I’d have to wait until next week to get a tree, I started to drive away.”

Enter Kevin Rose, an employee of the Richmond City Schools who, on evenings and weekends, works part-time with Roehler’s Tree Farm. Rose inquired as to what the issue was, and Watt explained it to him.

He then went to work right away to help make the situation, and Ben’s vision, right.

“I explained what was happening – out of earshot of my son – and he asked if I already had a cut-tree in mind,” Watt’s Facebook post read. “I showed him which one I liked, in the barn.”

Rose proceeded to take the pre-cut tree, carried it out of the barn to the muddy field – unbeknownst to Ben – and stood it up in a row of other trees, carefully concealing the fact it was pre-cut.

Watt and her son then ventured out to the field, found the tree, and Rose proceeded to “cut” the tree down for them and take it back to their vehicle.

It was such an act of selfless giving, Watt told the News-Examiner Wednesday, that even two days after, her words aren’t enough to convey her thanks.

“For (Rose) to come up with something like that,” Watt said, “I can come up with something like that, because I have to (with my son’s autism) all the time. But I would never ask someone else to do that, because that’s a lot to ask. For him to be able to come up with something like that ... and he had no idea he was autistic. He was just trying to help a kid get a tree.

“It really helped,” she continued. “There’s just not enough words ... and it’s wonderful for (my son) to see. He gets to see the good in people, too. It just really touched me. There’s no way I can thank him enough.”

Watt wanted to post her story on Facebook – which she wrote in her car at home, right after returning from the tree farm – as a way to thank Roehler’s, and Rose, for their kindness.

“You have no idea how awesome you are! You completely saved our Christmas tonight, and never complained once about all the extra work to sell me a tree you already had ready,” Watt wrote in her post Monday. “You took some of the ‘hard’ (that goes with raising a child on the spectrum) and lightened my load. You made him laugh, you made him happy – and you made my week! Thank you just isn’t enough!”

Now, thousands upon thousands of people, both online and by phone because of Watt’s Facebook post, are thanking Rose and the tree farm for the heartwarming story.

On Watt’s Facebook page alone, her post regarding Rose has been shared 500 times and liked by roughly 1,000 people. The Facebook page “Love What Matters” picked up her story, shared it on their own page, and that has garnered more than 43,000 likes and over 7,000 shares.

Folks from across the country are even calling in to Roehler’s, to let them know what a wonderful thing Rose did.

“Some woman called last night from Alabama,” Ginny Roehler told the News-Examiner Wednesday. “She just thought that it was great that Kevin did something like that for an autistic child, and she said if she lived in Indiana, she’d buy all her Christmas trees from us.”

Roehler said she wasn’t surprised to hear about what Rose did for Watt and her son. If anything, she said, that’s his everyday nature.

“Kevin is really good,” she commented. “He’s a sweet man. He goes out of his way to help all customers.”

Rose, in an interview Wednesday with the News-Examiner, said that’s all he was trying to do for the Watt family – give them some help.

“That’s my nature,” he told the News-Examiner. “That’s the way I was raised. I’m just glad to help and make their Christmas. It was just something normal.”

He said he had no idea that Watt’s son was autistic, and that he was simply doing what he tries to do with all kids he comes in contact with, whether at the tree farm or while working in Richmond schools ...

Make a connection.

“It’s neat seeing their faces,” he said. “Knowing now he has autism, it made it even more special. It’s been a good feeling.”

Rose is amazed at how the story has gone viral – “It just went wild,” he said – and that it is even reaching people as far away as Australia and Canada.

Watt is thrilled that it is being picked up by others, and Rose and Roehler’s are receiving the praise she feels they deserve.

“I’m very glad this is catching on,” she said. “I’m hoping all read the story and help me thank him.”

For Rose, what took place Monday night was thanks enough for him.

“It’s just great to make their Christmas that way,” he concluded.