Mother Raised $35,000 For School Custodian Who Helped Her Son With Autism

One mother raised $35,000 and gifted it to the custodian at the elementary school her son, who has autism, attends.

Adrian Wood was excited to hear that Raymond Brown, the custodian at White Oak Elementary School in Edenton, North Carolina, had been nominated to win a 10,000 prize as part of the North Carolina Schools Heroes contest. Unfortunately, Brown didn’t win the contest.

Wood fully believes that Brown is a hero, considering he’s helped her 7-year-old son, Amos, make it through school. Amos was diagnosed with autism and Brown dubbed him with a nickname that helped Amos fit in. Thanks to Brown, Amos become known around the school as “Famous Amos” which provided a great boost in confidence for the boy.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to TODAY, Wood explained:

“Sending three typical kids to school — you’re sad, but you’re excited for them. Sending Amos to school was such a different path. He was three when he started school. He was in diapers and he didn’t speak. But after Mr. Brown started saying ‘hello’ to him and calling him ‘Famous Amos,’ Amos started saying, ‘Hey Brown,” when he saw him. He wasn’t even saying ‘Daddy’ at that point, so it was really something.”

Beyond forming a special relationship with Amos, Wood also recognized how great Brown was for other students, staff, and families at the school. She shared in a Facebook post, “I’ve witnessed the way Mr. Brown speaks to visitors and teachers. The way he’s never in a hurry or too busy to talk to the children. The way he’s willing to clean up bathroom accidents or help me post stuff on the walls or set up for PTA events. I’ve witnessed what happens when a popular man nicknames a little boy with autism.
My son, now ‘Famous Amos,’ is well-known at school and all because Mr. Brown paved the way. He is the whole package.”

Photo: Facebook/Tales of an Educated Debutante

When Wood learned that Mr. Brown wasn’t chosen to win the $10,000, even though he received the most votes, she was heartbroken for him. “I cried when I heard the news,” she said. Rather than move on and hope for better luck next year, Wood decided to take things into her own hands and make sure Mr. Brown was recognized for all that he does.

She created a fundraiser for him, posting it to her blog and sharing it on Facebook.

Photo: Facebook/Tales of an Educated Debutante

Within a few short days, she’d raised over $20,000 to gift to Brown – twice the amount of the award money he was nominated for. But the fundraising didn’t stop there either. By the end of her fundraising efforts, she’d raised $35,000 to gift to Brown, and he had no idea about any of it.

Wood and the community decided to surprise Brown with the $35,000 check. He dressed up and went out to a local waterfront spot to take anniversary photos. However, when he arrived he was in for a massive surprise – community members rallied around and provided the check.

Photo: YouTube/Beth Brabble

TODAY reported that Brown was surprised and touched by the award. He said: “I was very surprised to see all those people shouting and hollering ‘Mr. Brown, congratulations,’ it was beautiful and it’s hard to explain, but I know this community loves Mr. Brown.”

Brown and his wife plan to use the money to travel and visit family they haven’t seen since COVID began. Brown is also hoping to get a used work truck and his wife plans to use part of the money for home improvements.

Watch the touching moment he was awarded the money in the video below:

Sometimes the smallest actions, like giving the “outcast” kid a loving nickname, can have profound impacts. While it may not always pay cash to be kind, it always pays off in some way.

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