If you stop in to McDonald’s for some fries or chicken nuggets this week, raise a cup of soda for Russell O’Grady from Sydney, Australia.
The 50-year-old, who has Down syndrome, retired last week after an impressive 32 years of work at McDonald’s, spending his entire career at the chain’s Sydney West branch since 1986, when he was just 18.
O’Grady was remembered by his coworkers and regular customers as a good worker with a friendly attitude, and even dubbed the "best-known person" in his neighborhood by his supervisor, Courtney Purcell.
"We’ve got customers who come in to see Russell on Thursday and Friday," she said, "and the staff look after him, so we’re going to miss him."
Many locals will even stop O’Grady in the street when he's off the clock, just to shake his hand and say hello.
O’Grady’s father, Geoff, told Daily Mail Australia that the job completely changed his son’s outlook on life.
"Somebody said to him, 'Are you handicapped?'" he remembered. "And his answer was, 'I used to be when I went to school, but now I work at McDonald’s.'"
His younger sister, Lindsay, said that O’Grady can be "kind of blasé about it but loves his work very much."
O’Grady’s family also revealed that when he earned the job back in 1986, it was uncommon for people with Down syndrome to join the workforce. Now, more than three decades later, O’Grady is one of the location’s most popular employees.
The government employment initiative that found work for O’Grady all those years ago, Job Support, is sharing his success story to highlight how fulfilling jobs can change the lives of people with developmental disabilities.
According to the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, just 57 of American adults with Down syndrome are employed, and many of those with jobs are not being employed to their full potential.
Programs like Job Support help find work and training for people with intellectual disabilities.
While O’Grady still enjoys his job at McDonald’s, he says he’s choosing to retire for his health. We wish him all the best in his golden years!
[H/T: Lad Bible]