After her story went viral, April DiDonna was honored as a HOWL’s Hero by an organization that writes children’s books about organ donation. Photo provided

After her story went viral, April DiDonna was honored as a HOWL’s Hero by an organization that writes children’s books about organ donation. Photo provided

Oak Harbor woman now known worldwide for saying ‘I love you’

After the News-Times interveiwed her, April DiDonna’s story has gone around the world.

The Oak Harbor Wendy’s manager spreading the love in the drive-thru lane has become known worldwide for three simple words: I love you.

A lifelong Oak Harbor resident, April DiDonna began telling customers that she loved them when she saw them in the Wendy’s drive-thru where she works as an assistant store manager. She puts a tally on the wall if they say “I love you” back, and she has been keeping track since October 2020.

There were 2,549 tallies when the Whidbey News-Times interviewed her at the end of December, and the number has since grown to 4,300, she said.

The story must have resonated with readers, because DiDonna has since been interviewed by CNN, multiple radio stations and podcasts, and local television news.

“I never could have imagined that the article would have opened so many doors and so much love would be spreading the way it is,” DiDonna said.

People from as far away as Alaska and Zimbabwe have reached out to her. A man from Sitka, Alaska came through the drive-thru recently and said he had talked about the story with his family and friends.

“He wanted to meet me and tell that story,” DiDonna said.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s awesome — I’ve got customers coming in now who just want to see me and have that experience and hear the ‘I love you.’”

The man from Zimbabwe messaged DiDonna to tell her he had tried to implement what she was doing in his own life.

“It’s just awesome to be able to reach so far,” she said.

Although she will not be working on Valentine’s Day this Sunday, DiDonna said she would be there “spreading the love” on Friday and Saturday. She plans to spend Valentine’s Day with a friend.

Her advice to people during the holiday, especially if they are alone, was simple.

“It’s ‘I love you.’ Those three words can make such an impact for those who don’t ever hear it or aren’t used to hearing it,” she said.

“And nowadays I truly believe that people just need to spread love and live through love.”

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