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California truck driver delivers toys, treats to 2-year-old assault victim in Worthington Tuesday

WORTHINGTON -- Sometimes, an ice cream treat makes everything better -- at least for a little while. If there's a mantra long-haul truck driver Brant Aderman lives by, this could be it. The Live Oak, Calif., man drives a big rig in hues of pink a...

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Juan Gomez is shown with his two children, including son, Andrew, who was recently the victim of an assault in Worthington. Andrew is holding one of the gifts given to him by a long-haul trucker passing through Worthington. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Sometimes, an ice cream treat makes everything better - at least for a little while.

If there’s a mantra long-haul truck driver Brant Aderman lives by, this could be it.

The Live Oak, Calif., man drives a big rig in hues of pink and yellow, decorated with decals of SpongeBob and a host of other cartoon characters - a design his young son encouraged him to do. Mixed in are images of ice cream treats galore. Aderman is known as the ice cream man.

But you won’t find ice cream in the trailer he pulls behind his rig. The big white box is usually filled with produce he delivers from California to southeast South Dakota, the Twin Cities and Wisconsin. The ice cream has its own dedicated space inside a freezer in the tractor cab.

On Tuesday, Aderman made special arrangements to meet a 2-year-old Worthington boy who was recently the victim of an assault. The boy’s father, Juan Gomez, posted pictures of his son after the assault early this month and asked people to spread the message far and wide about the adult male who allegedly beat the boy.

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People did just that, and Aderman saw the post after it was shared by one of his Wisconsin friends. The images of the boy with his black eye, cut upper lip and facial scrapes brought Aderman to tears. He has a 5-year-old son and can’t imagine what he would do if anything ever happened to his boy.

“It just really broke my heart,” said the truck driver. “People all over the world were upset about the baby.”

Aderman passes through Worthington about six times a month on his route to and from California. He reached out to Gomez in hopes of meeting both him and the child, and bringing a smile to the boy - it was just a little something he, a stranger, could do.

On Tuesday, Aderman pulled into the Walmart parking lot, went inside the store and filled up a cart with everything from a Radio Flyer tricycle to a Tonka truck, John Deere semi with a combine, sidewalk chalk, Toy Story 4 Woody doll, bubbles, a Paw Patrol battery-powered truck, Matchbox cars and numerous other things a 2-year-old boy might like.

When he got back to his truck, Gomez and his son and daughter were there waiting.

Though little Andrew was quite timid around the stranger, he began to smile as he realized the toys were for him. He was particularly fond of the toy 18-wheeler hauling a John Deere combine - and the big rig Aderman had parked in the lot.

“He was really happy to see the ice cream truck,” Aderman said.

Gomez and his children were invited up into the cab of the semi, where Aderman gave them ice cream treats and some frozen pizzas to take home for supper.

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Though Aderman didn’t want to be the focus of a story - it’s not about him, he said - the fact that a stranger would track down a family just to shower a little boy with gifts is pretty special.

“I make pretty good, and this was right on my way,” he said with a shrug. “I wanted him to have something to shadow the awfulness he’s been through.”

Aderman has seen a lot in his 30-year career as a long-haul truck driver. He’s stopped to check on stranded cars, pulled people out of road ditches and offered a helping hand to those in need he meets along the way.

“What goes around comes around - good and bad,” he said. “This makes me feel really good.”

Edgar Gutierrez-Munoz is accused of assaulting the child and remains in the Nobles County Jail on charges of third-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child under the age of 4.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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