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Teen Embarks on Epic 450-Mile Journey to Deliver Pizza to Terminally Ill Man

BY Mimi Nguyen Ly TIMEOctober 22, 2018 PRINT

What could have driven an 18-year-old to travel 450 miles to deliver a stranger two pizzas—in the middle of the night?

The stranger, Rich Morgan, was a regular customer of Steve’s Pizza in Battle Creek, Michigan, some 25 years ago. Rich and his wife, Julie, loved the pizza there and haven’t found better pizza since.

Although they have since moved away to Indianapolis, they were planning to travel to Michigan to celebrate Julie’s birthday and enjoy some of Steve’s Pizza once again.

But they found themselves rushing to the ER instead. Rich, who had been battling cancer for two years, was told he only had a few weeks—or even days—to live, and was placed in hospice care, according to wife Julie, who recounted the story in a Facebook post on Oct. 16. 

Just a Text Message

When Julie’s father, David Dalke, found out about the situation, he secretly called the pizza restaurant on Oct. 13. Dalke explained Rich’s situation and placed a small request.

“If you ever make it happen, just a text message to Rich and Julie that you’re sorry they couldn’t make the trip,” Dalke recounted to CNN about what he asked for on the phone.

Dalton Shaffer, one of the managers of the restaurant, was the one to answer the call. Dalton works at Steve’s Pizza and is the grandson of Steve, the original owner of the restaurant. Dalton called Dalke back several minutes later, and asked what Rich’s favorite pizza was.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, did you understand that I am in Indianapolis? I’m not next door?'” Dalke recounted the conversation, according CNN.

Dalton would need to travel a distance of 450 miles (225 miles each way) to deliver the pizza from Michigan to Indianapolis where Rich was staying. That’s about three and a half hours each way, or seven hours in total.

“Dalton said he understood that, and would leave after he closed the store,” Julie recounted in the Facebook post.

Dalton did not let anyone at his work know he’d be setting off that night, according to ABC News.

“I did call my brother,” he told ABC News. “I said I’m gonna be in Indianapolis, if something happens to me, that’s where to look. I wasn’t expecting anybody to find out.”

At 2.30 a.m. on Oct. 14, a car entered the residence where Rich and Julie had been sleeping, and Dalton emerged with two pizzas. They were pepperoni and mushroom—Rich’s favorite.

Sometimes a slice of pizza is more than it appears to be! Read on for the story of an epic pizza delivery and the…

تم النشر بواسطة ‏‎Julie Morgan‎‏ في الثلاثاء، ١٦ أكتوبر ٢٠١٨

Dalton said the family gave him a hug. They offered to put him in a hotel for the night, but he said he had to head back for the next work shift, starting the same day. He made it back to Battle Creek by around 8 a.m. on the same day.

Dalton also did not accept any money for the pizzas.

It would be the family’s last pizza together—Rich passed away Oct. 20, according to Julie.

Days before Rich’s passing, she shared to Facebook the story of how a teenage boy made great effort to personally deliver pizza to a stranger and his family. She wrote: “While ‘thank you’ hardly seems adequate—from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Dalton from Steve’s Pizza in Battle Creek, MI, for making your epic middle of the night pizza delivery!”


Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at
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