Not an eye was dry in the pre-K classroom where Luis Tamarez stood for the first time since he was born four years ago. He suffers from cerebral palsy and the miracle was made possible through the kindness of strangers.
The story starts with the staff in his school at North Main Street Elementary in Pleasantville, New Jersey. When they heard about a device called an Upsee, which could make Luis’ dreams of walking come true, they decided to get it for him. The only problem was that it cost $500.
Although the Upsee would only let Luis experience the feeling of walking upright with the aid of an adult, it would still mean the world to a little boy who had spent his life either crawling on all fours or in a wheelchair to get around. But even then, the school staff thought he should still have it and decided to hold a fundraiser for him.
And then, substitute teacher Yorel Browne intervened. The former elementary school principal, who also works as an Uber driver, had a chance encounter with one of his fares one night in December to whom he spoke about Luis and how the device would change his life. That passenger was Jim Burke, a local businessman, and before Browne was even through with his story, he had offered to buy the device outright for Luis. His reason? Because it was simply “the right thing to do.”
On the day the device was delivered to Luis, both Burke and Browne were in the classroom to see the delighted boy take his first steps ever with the help of an aide, Collins Days.
“He was just overjoyed and smiling,” said Burke. “…I remember him saying, ‘I’m walking.'”
His teacher, Amy Cutler, would later tell reporters that “his reaction was pure joy.”
“You could see his smile from ear to ear. My reaction was tears,” she added.
And that smile was what touched everyone’s heart as Burke, himself in tears, said:
“I gave $500 and got a million dollar smile.”
Watch the video and try not to cry too.
Featured image via screenshot from YouTube video