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Florida Walmart employee comes through in family’s hour of need

Nathan Cobb
nathan@waltonsun.com
Walton Sun

A Georgia family recently got a scary surprise their last night of vacation that was eased by a generous Walmart worker in Panama City Beach.

As Jody Phillips and his family of six were settling in last Thursday night to rest up for their trip home the following morning, his diabetic daughter’s implanted glucose monitoring system, dubbed Dexcom, stopped working.

With 12-year-old Kaylyn’s blood sugar in the 60s, the family had to fall back on the old, finger-pricking testing method. Their only problem — they were running out of testing strips.

“Obviously, as any parent would, (I) went into panic mode,” said Phillips, who added that normal blood sugar levels are between 70 and 120. “At that point in time, with COVID-19 and everything else going on ... you don’t want to be going to a hospital. That’s the last place you want to be, especially on vacation.”

At about 1 a.m., Phillips hopped in his vehicle, left the condo in Gulf Highlands and set off to find more strips.

He soon arrived to the Walmart on Front Beach Road, where he found it was closed due to reduced hours from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With everything else opened up (in Panama City Beach) like it was, I figured Walmart would be open,” Phillips said.

After explaining his situation to a security guard, the guard went back into the store and an employee emerged shortly after. After talking for a few minutes, the employee went back into the store and later returned with a box of strips.

“I tried to give her the money,” Phillips said. “It was $40 cash, which I knew (the strips) were about $20, and I was going to give her $20 cash for going in and getting them, and she said ’No, those are on us.’ ”

He thanked them and hurried back to the condo, which was about a mile away.

“As soon as I walked into the door of the condo, my daughter’s Dexcom started reading again,” Phillips said.

He added that in the bag with the strips was a receipt with an employee discount, which let him know the good Samaritan paid for the strips herself.

Although Kaylyn’s Dexcom started working again and the strips were no longer needed, Phillips said it “was the greatest feeling in the world” that the employee helped him in a time of need.

“In a town like that, that sees as many tourists as it does, (for someone) to take the time to just help one ... it’s explainable,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to know that there are still really good people out there in a time like today.”

This story originally published to newsherald.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.