After Anthony Yorfido and his mom Diane stroll into a medical outlet, they don’t expect to bump into a rock legend – let alone Anthony’s idol Steven Tyler. But that isn’t the last surprise in store for the Ontario man and his mother, as Tyler’s reaction to the chance meeting leaves the pair stunned. And what happens after that will send Anthony and Diane reeling with disbelief.
Even before that impromptu encounter with Tyler, though, Anthony had big dreams. In fact, the young man has his heart set on performing on stage, where he can indulge his love of dancing and singing. And in a bid to achieve that goal, he’s always working on his moves.
Perhaps, then, Anthony aspires to follow in the footsteps of Tyler himself. And, naturally, he’d been excited when Tyler scheduled a couple of gigs at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls – which, happily, is near to Anthony’s home. Unfortunately, however, the 24-year-old hadn’t been able to get tickets for either show.
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that Anthony has to fit in any performing around his two jobs. Yes, despite living with Down syndrome, he still manages a full working life, splitting his time between a position at a 7-11 and another in the fashion section of Walmart. And the go-ahead personality that makes Anthony a star in retail may have also helped him on the day that he met Tyler.
That fateful encounter took place on March 31, 2016, when Anthony and his mom visited a store along Montrose Road in Niagara Falls – near to their home in Welland. They were going to get some supplies for Diane, who worked as a waitress in the Fallsview Casino, which sits right by the Falls.
As the pair walked towards the store, however, they may have been struck by a curious sight: a limo sat waiting outside. But although that’s probably not something that you witness every day when you pop out for supplies, the reason for the vehicle being there soon became clear.
Standing by the counter was a guy whom Diane thought she’d seen before. Yet while the man buying a brace for his back certainly seemed familiar to the mom, she couldn’t quite place him. “I’m looking at [the man], and I know his face, but I couldn’t think of his name,” Diane admitted to the National Post in 2016.
But even if Diane wasn’t sure who she was looking at, Anthony sure was. “Oh my God,” he exclaimed. “Steven Tyler, is that you?” And given his huge admiration for Tyler, Anthony went crazy. “Like, [Anthony] totally knows [Tyler], because he loves Aerosmith,” Diane told CBC in 2016. “He loves Steven Tyler. He listens to his music all the time.”
Indeed, Anthony has admitted to being a “really, really, really, really, really, really big” fan of Aerosmith, so he’d had no problems recognizing Tyler when he and his mom encountered the singer. And the young man had even watched Tyler during his spell on hit TV show American Idol, on which the rocker had served as one of the celebrity judges.
Tyler had joined the reality TV series in January 2011 and stayed on until July 2012, after which he returned to Aerosmith. It was claimed that troubles with Aerosmith had led to him signing up with Idol in the first place; ultimately, however, it seems that he has since patched things up with the band.
Furthermore, those two seasons of the show had made Tyler very familiar to U.S. TV viewers – including Anthony himself. “I knew it was [Tyler in the store] because I saw the back of him. I saw the limo outside,” the young man later told CBC. “I knew. I saw his ponytail.” And, of course, Anthony was aware that the star was in town because he’d played the casino a couple of nights before.
Tyler had sold that show out as well as the forthcoming gig on the night of March 31. And that perhaps comes as no surprise, given the frontman’s status in the business. Indeed, the man known as the “Demon of Screamin’” has thrilled audiences for decades with his charismatic stage presence.
But Tyler hasn’t just achieved multi-platinum success with his band; he’s also enjoyed success in his own right. American Idol hasn’t been his only screen work, either, as he’s had several other TV and film spots during his decades in the spotlight. Tyler has even seen some success as a solo performer, getting into the Billboard Hot 100 with “(It) Feels So Good,” and he’s written a top-selling book to boot.
Nonetheless, Tyler had never quite let go of Aerosmith – despite some ups and downs. He once tumbled off the stage during a gig, for instance, and had to temporarily leave the band after entering rehab for addiction. It didn’t help, either, that he apparently signed up for his stint on American Idol without even letting the rest of the band know. Still, that appears to now all be in the past, and to date Tyler has been rocking with Aerosmith for almost half a century.
In 2016, though, Tyler was also stepping out on his own by putting out his first solo album, We’re All Somebody from Somewhere. And later that year, he’d taken the record – a country-rock set that spawned another hit in “Love Is Your Name” – on tour, with the singer backed by his Loving Mary Band.
The concerts at the casino in Niagara Falls were in fact an early warm-up for the tour, which was slated to begin in earnest in July. And at the two shows, Tyler thrilled fans with a set that included some of his much-loved Aerosmith material alongside songs from We’re All Somebody from Somewhere.
So, yes, it was indeed the man himself at the counter in the medical supplies store. The back problem that necessitated the brace, however, was just one of many issues that have plagued Tyler as he’s aged. Leaping around on stage had also left him with a lot of pain in his knees, while tumbling off the stage in 2009 had caused a serious shoulder injury that had in turn seen Tyler rely too heavily on painkillers.
And Anthony wasn’t going to let this chance to meet one of his heroes go to waste. After all, you don’t get the opportunity every day to grab your idol and give him a hug. So Anthony did exactly that, embracing the superstar before anyone else could stop him.
And to his credit, Tyler wasn’t in the least taken aback by this. In fact, he acted as though it was almost an everyday occurrence and decided to give Anthony a hug straight back. Tyler didn’t stop there, either; Diane got a hug and a kiss, too.
Then, given how keen Anthony seemed to be on the man and his music, Tyler was curious about whether the youngster intended to come to the concert that evening. Anthony was downcast, however, and his mom explained to the rock legend that it just hadn’t been possible to get tickets for the sell-out casino shows.
But the Aerosmith frontman wasn’t going to just sit back and accept that, and he came up with a solution to the problem without hesitation. Diane later told the National Post, “[Tyler was] like, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that; you guys are coming with me. I’ll get you backstage passes.’ ”
Yet while the offer was a very welcome one, Diane had a problem. You see, she was due to go into work that evening, meaning she wouldn’t be able to accompany Anthony. A few phone calls later, though, and Diane had come up with her own solution. Specifically, she’d arranged for Jordan Setacci – who at the time was teaching Anthony how to dance – to go with her son instead.
Then, when Anthony and Setacci arrived at the casino’s theater, they were shown to a spot adjacent to the stage from which they would have a superb view of the show. And as they settled in, the theater filled, with nearly 1,600 people waiting for Tyler and his band to get into action.
Those fans were all in for a good time, too, as when Tyler had played at the same location a couple of nights before, he’d thrown the rules straight into the trash. Instead of having everyone sit throughout, as the venue demanded, the rocker got everyone onto their feet. Then, after that, he blew them away with the music that they loved and a willingness to get up close that you don’t often find with a big star. Tyler mixed with the front rows, you see, and shared hats with audience members.
But after Tyler and his band started up a rendition of Aerosmith hit “Sweet Emotion,” something heartwarming happened. Yes, the frontman set his sights on the young man whom he’d met in the store and called out for him to come onto the stage. Then, after Anthony had obliged, the rocker handed him maracas and yelled “Anthony’s in the house.”
And Anthony didn’t need asking twice, as getting to perform on stage with his idol was a dream come true. He didn’t waste the opportunity, either, shaking the maracas and getting into the groove. Then, after Anthony’s time in the spotlight, both he and Setacci freaked out at the side of the stage, amazed at what had just happened.
Diane subsequently told the National Post about what people who’d seen footage of the gig had said to her. “I was talking with people at work last night, and they’re like, ‘That was your son on stage?’” she explained. “[Tyler] told the band to lower their music, and he had the microphone right on the maracas. He was like, ‘Keep going, Anthony! Keep going.’”
What’s more, although Diane had enjoyed photos of the concert that had been sent to her cell during the show, she’d had no idea that Anthony would be taking to the stage. She hadn’t been that far away from the venue at the time, either. “I was dying!” she later said to the Niagara Falls Review. “I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? I can’t be there?’ I was so upset.”
The next day, of course, Anthony had quite a tale to tell his mother. “He woke up this morning going, ‘Oh my God, Mom,’” Diane recalled. “He showed me the set list; he was crying. He was so excited. He said, ‘This is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life.’”
Anthony also talked to CBC News about the surprise that Tyler had sprung on him, admitting, “I was shocked. I didn’t know I was going on stage.” And while speaking to the network, he also shared his feelings about the experience, saying, “I was really, really excited to meet [Tyler]. It was my dream come true.”
Diane found the whole episode amazing, too – even though it was one that she had had to live through vicariously. In fact, while she hadn’t really been a fan of Tyler before that night, she had a newfound appreciation of the man thanks to the way in which he had treated her son.
What’s more, it turned out that Setacci had caught Anthony’s performance on camera. That footage then found its way on to YouTube and went viral from there, with hundreds of sites going on to feature both Anthony’s story and the video itself. And according to the young man, his family and friends had gone “nuts” over the clip.
Since Setacci uploaded the video the day after the concert, in fact, nearly two million people have viewed it on YouTube alone, while many more have seen it alongside stories about Anthony. And the reaction to the footage was overwhelmingly positive, with many people leaving comments that recognized both Tyler’s generous spirit and Anthony’s enthusiasm.
One commenter summed up what many others may have felt when they wrote, “Just a quick note to say I read about this in the Niagara Review – and it totally made my day! So heartwarming – way to go Anthony and Steven!” Another viewer really let their emotions flow, writing, “This is so amazing. Makes my day and got tears in my eyes. Anthony is so happy. Beautiful. Truly beautiful.”
And it seemed that Anthony and Diane really felt as though they’d made a genuine connection with Tyler. That bond didn’t end with the wonderful night at the Fallsview Casino, either, as far as the Yorfidos were concerned. After the gig, you see, they decided to send the rocker’s crew photos of the performance.
Furthermore, Diane talked to CBC News about her hope that the Yorfidos could perhaps remain in touch with the rock superstar. She even suggested that they may get together again in future. But although Diane had no idea if Tyler or any of his people were watching, amazingly her suggestion didn’t fall on deaf ears.
You see, when the last date of the “Out on the Limb” tour rolled around in September 2016, Tyler featured a special guest: none other than Anthony himself. And the young man was more than prepared to show the Toronto audience the moves that he’d been learning in his dance lessons as he rocked out to the strains of Aerosmith smash “Walk This Way.”
But Anthony would find himself in an even bigger spotlight later in the year when he made an impromptu appearance on TV. While in the audience of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in November 2016, he broke out his dance moves as those around him all clapped and cheered him on.
So, while that chance encounter in a Niagara Falls medical supplies store may have just been another moment with a fan for Tyler, it had a huge impact on Anthony. That’s not to say that Tyler talked the incident down, though, as Diane explained to CBC News. She recalled, “[Tyler] just stopped in to get a back brace because his back was sore, and he said to me, ‘I didn’t stop in here to get a back brace. I stopped in here to meet my new friend Anthony.’”
Tyler’s life in the limelight carried on, of course, after Anthony had had his moment in the sun. But Diane, for one, will never forget the moment that the Aerosmith frontman bumped into her son in the store. And she summed up her thoughts of Tyler for CBC News, saying, “What a wonderful, wonderful man.”
And another person who will no doubt always remember their interaction with their favorite celebrity is Stacey Hunt. When the Louisiana resident wrote a message for actor Keanu Reeves and left it in her backyard, she never imagined that he’d actually see it. But the Matrix star did – and his response to the note sent fans everywhere into a frenzy.
It’s safe to say that 2019 has been a big year for Keanu Reeves. The actor has appeared in Toy Story 4, Always Be My Maybe and the third installment of John Wick – to name just a few projects that have kept him busy. But in July Reeves showed up in a totally unexpected place: a fan’s backyard. You see, a woman had left a sign out for the Speed star – and his startling reaction made news across the internet.
This is understandable, of course, as Reeves certainly holds a special place in the hearts of many movie fans. And this is partly because he’s appeared in so many successful films, including Point Break, The Matrix franchise and the Bill & Ted series. But the Canadian actor’s popularity also boils down to the fact that he normally comes off as a damn nice guy.
Yes, the internet is abound with stories of Reeves crossing paths with everyday people and doing awesome things for them. So any news of Reeves interacting with the public is bound to turn a few heads. Take, for instance, in 2001 when the star visited a cinema in Sydney, Australia. Working there at the time was fan James Dator – and he was in for a huge surprise.
In May 2019 Dator actually shared his celebrity encounter in a series of tweets. He explained, “I’m working at the box office [and] bored as hell, and suddenly, this dude walks up in jeans, a leather jacket and a horse riding helmet… It takes me a solid 30 seconds to ignore the helmet and realize it’s Keanu Reeves.”
And just as many fans presumably would have, a starstruck Dator reportedly wanted Reeves’ signature. “I do what any sensible 16-year-old does and tell [Reeves] I’d like to give him my employee discount,” Dator explained. “This means he needs to sign my sheet, and therefore I have his autograph.” Unfortunately, though, the actor seemingly didn’t catch on, and, puzzled, he informed the teen that he wasn’t a member of staff.
Then, just when Dator thought that he’d blown his chance, something remarkable apparently happened. “Two minutes later, there’s a knock on the door behind me that leads into the box office,” Dator tweeted. “I assume it’s my manager; it’s Keanu… ‘I realized you probably wanted my autograph,’ he says.” And Reeves had reportedly then handed the teen a receipt that he’d signed.
But Dator’s story gets even more touching. He claimed, you see, that Reeves had thrown something in the trash on his way out of the office. And as a result, it had dawned on Dator that the star had gone out of his way to make a fan happy. “I realize later that [Reeves] bought an ice cream cone he didn’t want just to get receipt paper so he could scribble his autograph for a 16-year-old idiot,” Dator explained.
If you’re thinking that Reeves’ sweet gelato gesture was a one-off, however, think again. Because in a 2010 Reddit thread, internet users shared stories about their own experiences with the amicable actor. And as it turned out, a lot of people had nice things to say about the action hero.
For instance, a user called bo2dd2 wrote, “Back in the late ’90s and fresh out of college, I got my first job as an assistant prop designer on the set of Chain Reaction (Keanu was a supporting actor with Morgan Freeman). Every day for the last few weeks of filming, Keanu treated the stage hands and “grunt workers” (including myself) by taking us out for free breakfasts and lunches. He was genuinely a very nice guy to work with.”
Interestingly, Reeves helping out workers behind the scenes of his films seemed to be a theme in the thread. Another user, for example, wrote, “A family friend builds movie sets – doesn’t design – is one of the poor dudes that just builds. Anyways, he worked on the set for The Matrix, and Keanu heard about family trouble he was having and gave him a $20,000 Christmas bonus to help him out.”
The Redditor went on, “[Reeves] also was one of the only people on the set who genuinely wanted to know people’s names, would say hello and mean it and would talk to people as his peers and not below him just because they were practically making nothing to build a set.”
There were non-movie-related stories about Reeves on the thread, too. “A friend of mine told me that she was once stranded on the side of a highway outside L.A. when her jalopy broke down,” one Redditor wrote. “She had no cell phone (that was before most people had cell phones) and no way to call for help. Then, a nice black Porsche pulls over, and as you can guess, it was Keanu.”
Not only did Reeves apparently help the poor woman out, but he was also a true gentleman about it. “He tried to help her jump-start the car, and when it didn’t work, he called AAA for her,” the user continued. “When they towed her car, he offered to drive her home, which she accepted. He drove about 50 miles out of his destination just to drive her home. She told me she hoped he would hit on her, but he didn’t.”
Incidentally, this isn’t the only time that Reeves has garnered praise for being well-mannered around women. In June 2019 users of Twitter pointed out, for instance, that when Reeves poses with a female fan, he usually doesn’t touch her skin. “It’s not about not taking chances,” one person tweeted. “It’s about being considerate and respectful – qualities that Keanu carries in spades.”
Another story on the Reddit thread also tells of Reeves giving away extravagant gifts on set. “I had a few friends working special effects jobs on The Matrix movies,” one user explained. “[Reeves] bought all of them f***ing Harleys for Christmas during the shoot for the second one.”
And Reeves himself backed up this heartwarming story. “We were all in this thing, and we were training together beforehand,” the star told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2003. Apparently, he’d gifted the motorbikes in order “to give a bigger thank you” to the people who’d helped him make the standout fight scenes in The Matrix Reloaded.
But if the star’s chivalry and offers of free motorbikes aren’t proof enough, there’s even more evidence of Reeves being an all-round wonderful person. For one thing, the actor does a bunch of charity work – and he’s very humble about it, too. “I have a private foundation that’s been running for five or six years, and it helps aid a couple of children’s hospitals and cancer research. I don’t like to attach my name to it,” Reeves told Ladies Home Journal in 2009.
Given Reeves’ nice-guy reputation, then, it’s unsurprising that fans have fallen in love with him – so much so that he’s been labeled “the internet’s boyfriend.” And when the one-time Mr. Anderson discovered this flattering title, his reaction was suitably adorable. “I didn’t know that… That’s wacky,” Reeves said in June 2019 at the premiere of Toy Story 4 after People informed him of the moniker. He added, “The positivity is great.”
Speaking of wackiness, it’s actually Reeves’ quirky side that some of his fans are most obsessed with. And this certainly came to the forefront in June 2019 while the actor was presenting a panel for the video game Cyberpunk 2077 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. In fact, Reeves’ interaction with one of the audience members was so amusing and sweet that it spawned a meme.
Talking about the experience of playing the game, Reeves explained, “The feeling of being there – of walking the streets of the future – is going to be breathtaking.” In response, audience member Peter Sark shouted out to the Canadian actor, “You’re breathtaking!” And Reeves quipped back, “You’re breathtaking! You’re all breathtaking!”
As a result of the cute interaction at the gaming conference, then, the word “breathtaking” has become associated with Reeves. Memes referencing the moment began springing up within hours of the show ending, in fact. And Sark used the experience as a way of spreading his own positivity. When the fan was offered a free copy of Cyperpunk 2077 by the developers, you see, he turned it down in favor of a charitable donation.
So, what better way to get Reeves’ attention than with a sign reading, “You’re Breathtaking”? Well, this was the bright idea that one superfan from Slidell, Louisiana, had in July 2019. Reeves, you see, was in town shooting Bill & Ted Face the Music, which is going to be released in 2020. And while the actor was en route to set one day with scriptwriter Ed Solomon, he spotted the notice out on a front lawn.
According to Solomon, Reeves hopped out of the car and immediately went over to the sign. The family who’d made it snapped some photos of the star scrawling his autograph below their message, and Solomon subsequently put the pics up on Twitter. “So, yesterday this sign was out on a lawn on the way to set,” he wrote. “Keanu jumped out of the car and did this.”
The fans behind the stunt, it transpires, are the Hunt family. Apparently, 16-year-old Ethan had been thrilled to learn that Reeves would be in his area to film Bill & Ted Face the Music. He’d then asked his mom, Stacey, if they could put out a message for the star – and she was delighted to.
And after placing the sign on the lawn, Stacey had observed many people stopping to take a look at it. But she was, of course, amazed when Reeves himself showed up. “Three people got out of the car and were walking into my yard, and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Keanu Reeves!’” she told Nola.com. “I probably said ‘no way’ about a dozen times.”
And not only did Reeves sign the placard, writing, “Stacey, you’re breathtaking,” but – being the true gentleman he is – he even asked permission first. “I could not believe that he was in my yard, and he was casual and like, ‘Can I sign your sign?’” Hunt told the website. “Ethan did the whole ‘You’re breathtaking’ bit – with the posture – and he did it back. It was just epic.”
Needless to say, Hunt was thrilled that Reeves had dropped by. “My heart has been racing for three days. Speed, The Lake House, Point Break – we’ve been watching Keanu Reeves movies for 20 years if not more,” the Louisiana resident said. “The fact that he was nice enough to take the time to talk to us and take pictures – everyone says he’s a nice guy, and it’s true.”
Solomon made a similar observation on Twitter after Reeves’ sweet act went viral too. “This thing, strangely, has gotten a lot of press. [I’m] not sure why,” he wrote a few days after the event. “It’s a good guy doing a kind thing. But I can’t help but think that maybe it shouldn’t be so odd.”
That said, the Hunt family were nevertheless extremely grateful for their brush with celebrity. And on July 26 Stacey posted a message on Twitter from her husband. “It’s been very surreal for sure. Keanu could have done the easy thing and passed the sign up, but he stopped and brought a lot of joy to my wife and kids. For that I am very thankful,” the post read.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Reeves’ touching gesture attracted a lot of praise. One internet user going by the handle keanu_is_my_muse wrote, for instance, “I have been a huge fan [of Reeves] for 33 years (since I was eight), and seeing things like this just solidifies it. [He’s] truly the kindest person I have ever met. A few minutes out of his day gave these people an experience they will remember for life.”
Yes, there’s no doubt that Reeves comes across as a legitimately nice guy. But his kindness to strangers is all the more remarkable when you know what a difficult life he’s led. In fact, the star’s troubles started when he was just a child. His father, Samuel, abandoned the family when Reeves was just three and later did time in prison for drug possession.
And Reeves had trouble at school, too. He was a self-confessed difficult child – even getting expelled from one institution. “I was just a little too rambunctious and shot my mouth off once too often. I was not generally the most well-oiled machine,” Reeves told Kevin J. Koffler in 1988. In fact, the star discovered later in life that he has dyslexia.
In 1993 Reeves also experienced heartbreak when he lost a good friend of his: actor River Phoenix. Phoenix was only 23 when he died as the result of a drug overdose. “I enjoyed his company very much and enjoyed his mind and his spirit and his soul,” Reeves told Rolling Stone in 2000 of his late pal. “We brought good out in each other. He was a real original thinker.”
But unfortunately, there were more tragedies to come. In 1999 Reeves was expecting a baby with his girlfriend Jennifer Syme. The child – a girl whom the couple had named Ava – was stillborn at eight months, and it naturally devastated the couple. Reeves and Syme ended up going their separate ways shortly afterwards, in fact.
Then, 18 months later, Reeves faced more unthinkable news. Syme, with whom the actor had apparently remained friends despite their split, crashed her car on L.A.’s Cahuenga Boulevard and died as a result of the accident. Later reports claimed that she had been inebriated behind the wheel. Syme was subsequently buried next to Ava, and Reeves was once again left bereft.
Inevitably, Reeves has carried around his heartbreak all his life. In 2006 the actor told Parade magazine, “Grief changes shape, but it never ends. People have a misconception that you can deal with it and say, ‘It’s gone, and I’m better.’ They’re wrong. When the people you love are gone, you’re alone.”
What’s more, Reeves has continued to think about the family that was taken away from him. “I miss being a part of their lives and them being a part of mine,” he told the magazine. Plus, he mused, “I wonder what the present would be like if they were here – what we might have done together. I miss all the great things that will never be.”
But Reeves being Reeves, he has thrown himself into helping the people in his life who are still here. In 1991, for instance, his sister Kim was diagnosed with leukemia. And the actor not only helped her through it, but he continued raising money for cancer charities even after she had gone into remission. In 2008, in fact, he answered phones during a Stand Up to Cancer telethon.
Yes, Reeves’ constant kindness despite the challenges that he’s faced is truly incredible. On Stacey Hunt’s Twitter thread, one internet user wrote, “[Reeves] has gone through so much [in] his life and always stays grounded and appreciative for the life he is blessed to live. We can all learn from his actions.”
And such is the power of Keanu Reeves that his kind actions have actually inspired other people to do the same. In June 2019, for instance, YouTube sensation PewDiePie announced that he would donate money to a leukemia charity for the sake of the “Keanu effect.” Internet users continue to spread the actor’s “life lessons” as well. It’s safe to say, then, that Reeves’ impact on others has been breathtaking.