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McDonald’s Worker With Down Syndrome Bids An Emotional Fairwell After Working For More Than 3 Decades

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It was an emotional day for the staff of McDonald’s in Australia as the much-loved man retired after working for 32 years. Russell O’Grady, 50, was considered “the best-known person in Northmead,” after working there since 1986.

He started off when he was 18 thanks to a government initiative that was organized to help people with intellectual disabilities find a job. For the next 32 years he was always seen greeting people with a smile.

He worked three days per week cleaning trays, sweeping the floor, and of course greeting the customers.

“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,” McDonald’s supervisor Courtney Purcell said.

Geoff O’Grady, his father, said that he’s become a kind of a local celebrity due to his job at the restaurant. “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,” he 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,” he said.

“It really helps him, he gets a lot of social interaction and makes him feel like part of the community,” Jobsupport trainer Nikita Vandaru was quoted by the Herald as saying. “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.”

One person commented: “I’ve actually met Russell before. He is a very hard working young man, always with a smile on his face. Congrats on the retirement champion.”

O’Grady decided to quit after he felt that it would be best for his health. He will now be spending much of the time on his hobby, ten-pin bowling, at the Northmead Bowling Club.

Let’s hope the champ has a great retired life filled with plenty of fun and happiness.