For a mother whose child was born with a condition, doing a simple task is anything but easy. They need all the help they can get.
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That’s why LynnMarie Rink, who has a 9-year-old son with a Down syndrome, was so thankful when a worker at an Apple store in Tennessee helped her after James suffered a major tantrum inside the store.
“We try hard to look like everyone else, but it doesn’t always happen,” Rink told TODAY.
The incident happened on January 21, 2016. Rink took her son to Green Hills mall that day to buy an iPad.
Inside the store, while LynnMarie was roaming around searching for iPad, her son became distracted by the bustling mall outside.
Something caught his interest, and James suddenly broke free of her grip and ran fast, crashing into the wall made of glass. The bump was so strong that it made the whole store gasp.
Seeing what’s happening, Apple employee Andre Wall immediately offered to help.
Rink, still on the floor and holding James, who was fortunately unscathed, asked Wall if he could set up the new iPad.
She was stunned when the employee immediately got down on his knees to do exactly what she asked, right there on the floor. She was bemused by the young man’s patience.
“They sat together with the iPad, and when they were done, James even held out his hand for a fist bump,” Rink said. “He blew a kiss as we exited the store.”
“To be honest, [Wall’s] response isn’t the norm when I bring James out in public,” Rink added. “Most people are uncomfortable. It’s frustrating, but I get it. To have a kid who’s 23 be so open and accepting. He met us where we were and gave us exactly what we needed in that moment. It made such an impression, and I was so grateful.”
The following day, Rink wrote a letter about the very good service she had experienced. She shared it on Facebook, hoping that Wall, whose name she could not remember, would read it.
Her story was shared hundreds of times, and her inbox was filled with messages from special-needs parents from different parts of the world.
And yes, her message reached Wall, who replied, “I began working at Apple in hopes of having fulfilling moments like this. Post-Apple, my hopes are to work within the realm of youth counseling. Thanks again for making my day!”
Rink wrote a book about the challenges of raising an autistic child. For her, the experience confirms the part special kids like James can play in the lives of others.
“Helping others isn’t always about the grand gestures,” she continued. “Sometimes, it’s just about doing what needs to be done. It’s the little stuff that makes all the difference.”
Meanwhile, Angela Ahrendts, Apple senior vice president of retail and online stores, in her statement, commended Wall and wished the Rink family the best.
“We’re so proud of Andrew and celebrate how he and so many of our employees interact with their local communities every day,” Ahrendts said in an e-mail to TODAY.