• Jonathan Cowan celebrates Valentine's Day by giving a rose to every young lady at school. Photo by BEN KATZ
    Jonathan Cowan celebrates Valentine's Day by giving a rose to every young lady at school. Photo by BEN KATZ

Young man's Valentine's gesture goes viral

   Murphy – Dressed in his gray blazer and purple tie, 7-year-old Jonathan Cowan waited patiently to present every girl at Murphy Elementary School with a single rose on Valentine’s Day.
   “I’ve seen that there are girls that get stuff, but some of them are left out,” Jonathan said. “Valentine’s Day was coming up, so I said, ‘Why don’t I get a flower for everyone?’ ”
   From kindergärtners to teachers, ladies poured into the school’s entryway to receive a rose from Jonathan. Many students met him with a shy “thank you,” a nervous smile or an occasional blushing.
   “I love it,” second-grader Haven Phillips said while smiling down at her rose. “It was a nice surprise.”
   After Jonathan passed out all of the roses to first-graders, they showed their appreciation by shouting in unison, “Thank you Jonathan!”
   Holly Stonecypher, Jonathan’s first-grade teacher, found his unselfish action moving and heartwarming. However, she wasn’t surprised that Jonathan came up with the idea on his own.
   “This just shows his character,” Stonecypher said. “That’s just the kind of kid he is.”
   Kelly Cowan, Jonathan’s mother, said her son always has been sensitive to people’s feelings. When they visit the local ice-cream shop as a family, he always offers the rest of his ice cream to his sister once she finishes hers. He also never takes the last bite of food during meals unless everyone else already has left the table.
   “He is exceptionally tender-hearted, and always has been,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t want to ever hurt anyone’s feelings.”
   His mom said she first heard of his idea during a family dinner. Jonathan mentioned that he wanted to get a box of chocolates for a particular girl on Valentine’s Day.
   “His older sister Elizabeth said, ‘Oh, but Jonathan, how would that make all the other girls feel?’ ” Kelly said. “He looked so concerned at the thought of hurting someone’s feelings. He just blurted out, ‘Well, I’ll get all the girls a rose.’ ”
   Kelly said Jonathan’s dad laughed at the time, and she also didn’t think he was serious. When Jonathan’s grandmother later mentioned the idea to her, she realized he was determined to make it happen.
   “My husband said, ‘We’ll look into it and see how much it would cost,’ ” Kelly said. “At that point, it (cost) didn’t matter. He was pretty excited, so we were gonna try to make it happen.”
   After finding a store that sold roses in bulk for a discounted price, 300 roses were ordered in time for Valentine’s Day. Kelly borrowed a tool from her florist friend and spent more than four hours removing the thorns from each rose.
   Jonathan’s kind deed reached beyond the grounds of his school to well over 1 million views on social media. The Cherokee Scout posted a video on Valentine’s Day of Jonathan handing out roses to his schoolmates, and in less than 24 hours it went viral. As of Tuesday morning, Facebook reported that the video has reached 3.6 million people.
   Kelly said her family was shocked when they opened Facebook on Valentine’s Day last week. She didn’t think her son even would gain recognition from the local newspaper, let alone receive thousands of positive comments on the video.
   “We didn’t expect any of this,” she said. “When I saw that people were sharing the video, it’s just crazy.”