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Down’s syndrome employee who dedicated 32 years to McDonalds finally retires

Rebelander Basilan
Dec 25, 2018
08:38 P.M.

Russell O’Grady has retired from his work at McDonald’s after 32 years of dedicated service.

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The 50-year-old Australian native has made headlines because of his courage to conquer the barriers of Down’s Syndrome, a condition that he has.

O’Grady started working at the McDonald’s outlet at 18 years old, and never left his job until his retirement.

Nikita Vandaru, O’Grady’s job support trainer, said the job gave him great experience with the real world.

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He was hired in 1986 as part of a government program providing employment for people with intellectual disabilities.

He was employed to greet and serve customers as well as clean trays and sweep the floor. He had charmed many people with his bubbly personality.

AN INSPIRATION TO MANY

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“We’ve got regular customers who come in to see Russell on Thursday and Friday, and the staff look after him, so we’re going to miss him,” said McDonald’s supervisor Courtney Purcell.

Many people were inspired by O’Grady, who has become a local celebrity.

“People stop him on the street and shake his hand. He’s very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don’t believe it,” his father said. “Somebody said to him ‘are you handicapped?’ and his answer was: ‘I used to be when I went to school, but now I work at McDonald’s.'”

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Nikita Vandaru, O’Grady’s job support trainer, said the job gave him great experience with the real world.

“It really helps him, he gets a lot of social interaction and makes him feel like part of the community," she said. "When I watch him work, every second customer will stop and talk to him. He's got a huge smile on his face every time they come."

Now that he is retired, O’Grady intends to enjoy his time playing tenpin bowling at the Northmead Bowling Club.

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BREAKING THE STIGMA

Many people with Down Syndrome are now visible with the help of social media, and they are breaking the stigma attached to their condition.

In one viral video, a child with Down Syndrome melted hearts all over the internet with his recitation of the ABC.

John David, who lives with his parents in Helena, Alabama, was only two and a half years old when his family went on a trip to Jacksonville.

His grandmother Pam Sapp filmed the adorable moment when she taught John David to say the ABC. The video has amassed hundreds of thousands of views on social media.

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