Autistic Man Struggling With Self-Isolation Gets Cheered Up By Message From His Favorite Weatherman
Mark Byamugisha — who goes by Mark B. — has had trouble adjusting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But thanks to his favorite local TV meteorologist, Steve Rudin of ABC 7 in Washington, D.C., his spirits have been lifted.
Mark B. has autism and does best when he has a routine. The 34-year-old Maryland resident enjoys activities like bowling, being with other people, and watching sports. One of his favorite activities is keeping up on the daily weather reports, both in print and on TV. His favorite meteorologist is Steve Rudin, and Mark B. rarely misses his broadcasts on ABC 7.
“As long as Steve’s broadcast doesn’t interrupt a sports game or prior commitment, Mark B. tunes in every day,” said Michelle Byamugisha, Mark B.’s sister. “He has always been intrigued by meteorology and like many autistic people, Mark B. appreciates consistency. Steve has been forecasting the weather for many years, and having that recognizable, trusted voice means a lot.”
However, Mark B. has unable to do a lot of that because of COVID-19 and the ensuing need for quarantine. The 34-year-old man has spent a lot of his time in quarantine lying in bed at his parents’ house, feeling low.
Michelle said the disruption has been “grueling” for her brother. Wanting to help her brother get out of his funk, Michelle reached out to Steve Rudin.
Within an hour, Steve responded with a special video message.
Here’s the video @SteveRudinABC7 sent for my brother. I literally cried when I got it. I would say “it’s the little things” but during these uncertain times, that’s an understatement. This means the world. pic.twitter.com/3YNBQ3ZZaP— Michelle Byamugisha (@byamichelle) March 27, 2020
“Hey Mark B., it’s Steve,” he said in the video. “I am so happy to know that you’ve been watching me for over a decade. That is pretty awesome. I know things are a little bit different right now because so much is changing in our world, but you know what? We’re all going to get through this together, and we’ll watch the weather together over the coming days and weeks and months and years. And you know what? A year from now, it’s like none of this has ever happened.
“I hope that one day, when things get better, that you and your sister can come visit me here at the station. I’d love that. Stay safe. Stay healthy. I’m so glad you watch.”
Michelle said she cried when she got the video.
“I would say “it’s the little things” but during these uncertain times, that’s an understatement. This means the world,” she wrote on Twitter.
Her brother seemed stunned by the special video at first.
Social distancing is hard, but my brother Mark B has #autism and it’s been grueling. This pandemic disrupted his entire routine and he barely gets out of bed.— Michelle Byamugisha (@byamichelle) March 27, 2020
So I emailed his favorite meteorologist and within an hour @SteveRudinABC7 sent him a video to lift his spirits... pic.twitter.com/gra18X3Fik
The video helped Mark B.’s mood brighten, and his sister is grateful.
“It took a moment for him to absorb, but he’s taking Steve’s motivational words to heart and today, Mark B. couldn’t be happier,” Michelle told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Steve’s generosity is so appreciated and it struck a chord with so many families like mine. The needs of autistic people are totally disrupted by coronavirus — from their emotionally fulfilling hobbies to their day-to-day resources and diligent routines. With one video and an on-air shout-out from Steve, Mark B.’s spirits were lifted and that kindness means everything.”
In his broadcast later on, Steve even gave a shout-out to Mark B. — and then unexpectedly choked up on air.
When notes from viewers make you want to cry. pic.twitter.com/S0OJn08MXH— Steve Rudin ABC7 (@SteveRudinABC7) March 28, 2020
Michelle posted the videos on her Twitter page and they went viral. A heartwarming story like this is something we all need more of as we go through quarantine!