Article will continue after advertisement

RONKONKOMA, NY – A New York man says a free pizza saved his life.

Dennis Kust, 59, lost his wife last month after a long battle with cancer.

He admitted he was struggling with deep depression when he walked into Albert’s Pizza in Ronkonkoma, NY.

He received a free pizza as part of a “pay it forward with pizza” campaign.

Kind customers had stepped forward to pay for pies for police officers, single moms and people struggling just like Kust.

But when Kust opened up the pizza box given by an anonymous donor, he was floored. There, written in colorful letters, was a message that read “stay strong.”

It’s the same message he heard his wife say every day before she died.

“The last months of my wife’s life, she kept telling me, ‘You have to be strong. You have to be strong,’” Kust said.

Kust said the pizza box’s message convinced him that his wife was still with him.

He later went back to the store to thank the owners and to give them a hand-written letter explaining just how much this simple act of kindness meant.

“You don’t know me, but on March 25th, you turned my life around,” the letter read.

Co-owner of Albert’s, Rich Baer says he has read the letter dozens of times, and it always brings him to tears.

“When you do something nice, it works. You see somebody benefit,” Baer said.

Kust also stepped up to anonymously buy a pie for someone else.

“I’d like to somehow thank the people who bought it for me and let them know they saved my life,” he said.

The pay it forward pizza movement is growing rapidly as dozens of customers have bought pizzas for others. Like Kust, most are donating anonymously.