Texas firefighters' random act of kindness puts family in awe

A neighbor secretly took a picture of firefighter Blake Steffanauer mowing the front yard.

CNN --

A Texas family was brought to tears by a random act of kindness by group of firefighters.

The men fought to save a man's life...then offered help in a way his family never expected. It was a heartfelt gesture the family says they'll never forget.

It was a normal call for the men of engine 4 in Baytown. At a house one mile away, 65-year-old John McCormick collapsed while mowing his front yard. He had a history of heart trouble, and this time his heart stopped.

Firefighters and EMTs revived him and followed the ambulance to the hospital. But then the engine driver, Luke Bednarek, had an idea, so they drove back to the house.

"We were all fighting over who can push the mower first," said Lt. J.D. Giles, one of the firefighters.

And that's when a neighbor secretly took a picture of firefighter Blake Steffanauer finishing the front yard.

"I just happened to get off the truck first and grabbed the lawnmower first," he said. "We were all fighting over it."

They took turns. They did the backyard, too. Then they locked the garage, put the key in the mailbox, and left a handwritten note that said, 'We felt bad that your husband didn't get to finish the yard, so we did."

And they just didn't think it was that big of a deal.

"Just something to help someone out in the worst time in their life," Lt. Giles said.

But it was the letter and the gesture that made a daughter weep.

"It just showed me that there's still compassion," daughter Jeana Blackford said. "That people still do random acts of kindness every day for people they don't know."

Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending.

John McCormick died two days later. But his family thanked the firefighters for giving them those two days to say goodbye, and for restoring their faith in people.

"I just couldn't believe it," said wife Patsy McCormick. "I just couldn't believe they took the time to do that.

Son-in-law Dan Blackford said it spoke of their honor.

"It just speaks to their character," he said. "They say honor is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. That's a fact. They were very honorable."

The picture of that random act was posted to the City of Baytown Facebook page and is already going viral.

The McCormick family is getting calls as far away as New Zealand. They're just thankful a neighbor took the picture so they can say thank you to the firefighters, and show the rest of us what kindness looks like.

And it goes to show that going above and beyond the call of duty often just takes a few more steps.