Speed Reads

friends forever

Friendship between young girl and grocer sparks a movement to recognize kindness

In the produce department of the Publix in Fort Myers, Florida, a friendship was formed.

Rachel Smith has shopped at this grocery store for years, stopping by every Saturday. She told Good Morning America she was drawn to the location because "there was always such a culture of kindness."

No one embodied this more than Gilnet. A grocer at the store for several years, he was always happy to run into Smith and her daughter Fiona, now 6. When she was a toddler, "I noticed her beginning to recognize him, and then eventually going out of her way to look for him," Smith said. After Gilnet taught Fiona how to high five, she gave him the nickname "High Five."

Gilnet recognized their special bond, and on Fiona's third birthday in 2019, surprised her with a gift: her first bike. "She loved it so much," Smith said, adding, "He's priceless to us." Because of COVID, the family's regular grocery trips had to stop, and during that time, Gilnet was transferred. This week, after two years, Smith tracked Gilnet down at his new store, and brought Fiona to visit. The pals were thrilled to reunite, with Fiona running up to Gilnet for a hug.

Smith posted videos of Fiona and Gilnet on social media, and has received several comments from followers talking about the "High Fives" in their lives — people they met during childhood who left a lasting impression. Smith told GMA these stories and Gilnet have inspired her to start a charity. It will be called "Who's Your High Five," she said, and aims to spark a movement where "people can submit stories about people who've positively impacted their lives the way he's positively impacted ours."