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Aderman returns to Worthington for Marten, Engelkes families

Ice cream man
Brant Aderman (center) visited Worthington Tuesday to offer comfort to the Martin and Engelkis families. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Since his last visit to Worthington at the end of May , "ice cream man" truck driver Brant Aderman of Live Oak, Calif. has been keeping up with local news.

When he heard about the deaths of Tucker Marten of Adrian and Griffin Engelkes of Little Rock, Iowa, Aderman felt the pain of the families and decided to reach out.

"He messaged us on Facebook," said Marissa Marten, Tucker's mother. She said she was surprised to hear from Aderman, but pleased that he wanted to help.

"It helps to know that we're not alone," she added.

Eric Marten expressed similar feelings to his wife's.

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"It's so cool what (Aderman) is doing. We hate being on his route, but we appreciate what he's doing," Eric said.

During his trip to Worthington Tuesday, Aderman again focused on the children. He picked out tricycles for Ramsey, 3, and Eve, 2, and a scooter for Eric's daughter Mersaydes.

The Engelkes family also praised Aderman's kindness.

Hannah Engelkes, Griffin's mother, recounted how Aderman approached her family via Facebook message.

"We ended up having a conversation kind of about what happened and he heard everything that my oldest son had gone through," she said, "and decided that he wanted to pay him a special visit."

Gibson Engelkes is 5 years old.

"We've done a lot of talking about his brother Griffin lately, which is wonderful, but it's so hard for a 5-year-old to understand all that he has seen," Hannah explained. "To be able to focus on him and do something just for him means the world to Gibson as well as us."

When the Engelkes family met Aderman, he gave Gibson a tour of his truck, including letting him sit on Aderman's lap in the driver's seat and push the button that started the ice cream truck music.

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Then Aderman took the family inside Walmart to pick out something for Gibson. Gibson looked at bikes at first but decided on an electric Monster Jam truck big enough to drive himself and his best friend, Masyn.

"It was the cutest thing," Engelkes said. "Brant kind of looked at (Gibson), smiled and said, 'Alright, buddy, let's get it.' The next thing you know we're pushing this big box up to the front at Walmart.

"To be able to see Gib's face after Brant pulled that monster truck out made my entire day just with that one little smile. Our boy's smiles are sometimes all we need to get through the next seconds or the next minutes or the next hours of the day.

"Every time we see that truck, we will get to think of how special that was for him and us, and for a little while we hurt a little less."

Engelkes described Aderman as the kind of person that "with just meeting him once, you feel like you've been friends forever."

The community seems to feel the same way about the California trucker. After Aderman's visits with the Martens and the Engelkeses, he returned to his truck to distribute ice cream to the small crowd that had gathered.

Aderman paid special attention to the children, kneeling down to their level and offering them stickers and high-fives. He remembered some of the families he met during his last visit and asked how they had been doing.

When Aderman learned that his kindness boosted community morale, he offered a simple remark: "Good. That's what it's all about."

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