Imagine a child who is only able to move around by crawling or riding in a wheelchair. Well, that was life for a four year old New Jersey boy named Luis Tamarez. You see, Luis has Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a movement disorder that affects a child’s ability to control muscles and movement. Cerebral palsy can be the result of brain injuries that occur during pregnancy or birth. Cerebral Palsy ranges in severity depending on how serious the brain injury is and can cause mild to severe disabilities.
So, at four years old, little Luis had never taken a step. Now that has all changed, thanks to a device called an Upsee. The Upsee was designed by a mother whose child had Cerebral Palsy and is manufactured by Firefly. An Upsee is a harness that a disabled child wears, allowing the child to be suspended, upright, in front of an adult. The child’s feet are then attached to the adult’s feet, allowing the simulation of walking.
The teachers at Luis’s school heard about the Upsee and decided to get him one. Unfortunately, they found out, an Upsee would cost over $500. After some brainstorming, the teachers decided to host a fundraiser to raise the money for the Upsee. Wait, this story gets better.
Yorel Browne is a substitute teacher at Luis’s school, so he was aware of the teachers’ plan to raise money to buy Luis the Upsee. Yorel Browne also drives for Uber in his spare time. One night he picked up local businessman, Jim Burke, and in the course of casual conversation, mentioned the Upsee and the fundraiser. Without missing a beat, Mr. Burke responded that they didn’t need the fundraiser, because he would buy the device. That’s how Luis Tamarez got to take his first steps. Jim Burke was on hand to witness those first steps, and see the resulting smile on Luis’s face. Afterward, Burke commented, “I gave $500 and got a million dollar smile,” Who says you don’t hear happy endings anymore? Random acts of kindness by strangers – pay it forward!