Ottumwa mom applauds pizza man for helping her daughter

Travis Gierstorf, left, poses with Monica VanGalder at Pizza Hut in Ottumwa Thursday/Beth Waldon

An Ottumwa pizza man is getting more than a pat on the back this week for a job well done.

His quick action on the job helped a customer in a major time of need.

Travis Gierstorf is just over a month on the job at Pizza Hut in Ottumwa. The 18-year-old pizza delivery driver said a customer suffered from a medical condition during his shift Sunday night, and nearly fainted when she came outside to pick up her pizza.

“She started to get a little shuffled and I kind of realized that and I noticed that there was something wrong,” Gierstorf said. “She started to fall and I caught her and laid her down on the ground.”

Gierstorf and his coworker sat with the young woman until she was well enough to walk back to her apartment.

“Her safety was the top priority,” Gierstorf said. “To make sure everything was alright, nothing out of the ordinary ... I’m definitely glad that I was in the right place at the right time to prevent any injuries from happening, and it’s always good to put the customer first and know that you did the right thing.”

The girl’s mother, Monica VanGalder, applauded Gierstorf’s extraordinary act of kindness on social media this week. She tells KTVO her 22-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a medical condition that rapidly affects her heart rate.

"She has vasovagal syncope, which is ... her blood pressure will bottom out if she gets up too quickly from either a sitting or lying down position," VanGalder said. “A perfect stranger was willing to help my daughter in a time when she needed it.”

VanGalder and Gierstorf were introduced in Ottumwa Thursday afternoon.

“It just meant a lot to me that you didn’t just leave her there, or hurt her or take anything from her,” VanGalder told Gierstorf. “I just wanted to say thank you.”

VanGalder made sure to tell Gierstorf’s boss Thursday how pleased she is with their staff’s performance.

“I was just super thankful that he was able to calmly handle the situation, and make some good choices to help her,” VanGalder said.

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