‘I was SO nervous the morning of the surprise. I felt like I was back in high school, about to give a dreadful speech. I watched my recycling driver cry tears of joy. The burden was instantly lifted.’

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“I wanted nothing more than to be a mom. But I had to fight for it. We had both male and female factors including PCOS against us. After three egg retrievals, I had a successful frozen embryo transfer that led us to my miracle boy, Brock, who is now 2.5 years old.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

My little guy was a dream baby. He barely cried, he slept through the night starting at 2 months old. He was laid back and happy all the time. I knew something was ‘off’ from his foot placement when I would watch him bounce in his bouncer. I just knew something wasn’t 100%. I brought it up to the pediatrician very early on and the team would say, ‘Let’s wait until he’s walking.’ Kids around us were walking and talking and we were still waiting. Finally realizing walking was not happening for my guy, I took my ‘mom gut’ and put in a referral with a pediatric physical therapist and began the first of many ‘wait lists’ to get the help I needed for my son.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

After a six week wait for an opening, I brought him in for an evaluation and after 30 minutes with a team of two he was a part of the weekly line up for services. In addition to physical therapy we had orthotist appointments to get fitted for Sure Step Braces. The day he took his first steps, he had the BIGGEST smile on his face. My smile was bigger.

We climbed one hill to overcome one battle and would jump right into another.

Brock is intelligent. He found ways to communicate when oral language was a struggle. I watch him study everything. At a popular children’s park, I would watch all the other children enjoying the ride looking forward on the carousal and when I look over at my Brock, well he just looks up to study how the gears are working. What wasn’t working was his speech.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

We began another wait list for an evaluation for speech before his two year well child check. Upon the evaluation, Brock was diagnosed with Apraxia.

In the midst of not using words, my son became obsessed with recycling trucks. We live in North Carolina and Summer here is humid and hot. Since Brock was an infant, I would have him outside with me and we would gift out bottled waters to the mailman, to construction trucks, and to our recycling driver if we were out when they came by. This weekly visit had more of an impact to Brock than I realized at the time.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

Brock was nonverbal and speech therapy was a slow progression. When he did realize he could make sounds and words, he wanted to talk about garbage.

Every Wednesday, Brock and I wait for Mr. Aaron; our neighborhood recycling driver, who Brock loves so dearly. You see, while many would ignore my nonverbal little boy, Mr. Aaron did not. Each and every week, he would stop at our house and get out of the truck. Instead of going straight to the bin to load the recyclables into the hopper, he would first come and greet Brock and me. He knew my guy was nonverbal and he would talk to him anyway. This made my mom heart burst. The time that Mr. Aaron gives Brock each week was a big deal to a little boy. Brock wanted to play garbage around the house. We would dress the part. We would bring whatever we could that fit into the bins. The impact Mr. Aaron made was present as I watched my son try to use sounds with his speech. The words he was learning were all tied to his weekly visits with his first best friend.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

Halloween rolled around and I knew my husband needed to make him a recycling truck. It was just fitting. Right at the same time, I saw a social media post that the local news was sharing about a boy from a different state loving the garbage truck. I commented on that post that it happened right here and shared a few pictures of Brock picking out his weekly treat/drink and waiting for his friend. Contact was made and they came out to our house the following week to film the duo. Mr. Aaron didn’t know they were coming so it would be as normal of a day as possible.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

At the time, I thought that would be it. A cute airing of a cute pair. I was wrong. The story aired and we had several messages including one from Mr. Aaron’s wife. Mrs. Aaron contacted me after finding me on social media the night the news aired their segment. She thanked me for treating her husband with respect and kindness each week. I thanked her as well. We exchanged numbers, she called me, and I learned a lot about his family. This genuinely nice guy that I see with my son every week was hurting. His family was struggling. After learning what she shared about not having a working vehicle to overcoming homelessness, I knew I needed to do more. I barely slept that night, my mind just wondering as to how I could help the man who helped my son.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

I reached out on my social media where each week I share the weekly exchanges between the pair and asked for help. If we raised enough money, they could get their vehicle fixed, that would help them a little. People jumped on board to help me. It started with dozens and then dozens turned to hundreds. We have one small life to live in the grand scheme of things and complete strangers joined together to help a family that they didn’t even know. I reached out to our local mall and received donated gift cards towards Christmas presents so the family could go out to eat and not have to worry about the bill. It was a very tiring week. As money would come in, I felt obligated to adjust the totals to keep them current. I never felt like I was tied to my computer/phone before this but it was completely worth it. I contacted the news crew and they were on board to head back to film again. In six days, a collaborative group of friends, family, neighbors, strangers from NC to other states pooled together over $5,000 to surprise and thank Mr. Aaron for his kindness towards our Brock.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

I was SO nervous the morning of the surprise. Here I had shared HIS story on MY social media and had no idea how he would react. I have no idea how Ellen DeGeneres does it. I felt like I was back in high school, about to give a dreadful speech in front of the of class; nervous but at the same time, extremely excited.

I never thought I would have a day where I would be giving a $5,000 check to a stranger. Yes, I see him every week. But I didn’t know him personally outside of that. I just followed the same gut feeling I always do, and I knew deep down he was one of the good guys. I was right.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

I had no idea what I would say, if I would cry, so I printed out a note the night before explaining everything and how this came to be as I had no idea if I was going to be a blubbery mess or if I could hold it together. My nerves were high as I passed gift bags to my son who handed them over to Mr. Aaron. One by one he had the gift cards, he opened the free family photography session, the money to go out to eat, and then my son gifted his friend the big check. I watched my recycling driver cry tears of joy as a little bit of a burden was instantly lifted. The news crew packed up and went on with their post-election day and life was back to normal. I shared the footage as people who helped donate were waiting and everyone was left crying tears of joy. The same happiness he brings my Brock, we all felt in return for helping his family.

Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse
Courtesy of Mallory Oosterhouse

Every week, I help my son pack up what he picks out for his pal. We bundle up based on the weather and we wait. Garb day in these parts is each and every Wednesday. What is a mundane task to many is a big deal around here and now you know why. I can only hope that my son continues to preserve just his like friend with whatever is thrown his way. To continue to always be kind to others and to keep working hard, even when things are tough. Eventually the right people will come along, and things will fall into place.

Brock is still in speech therapy, making more and more progress every week. If you catch us playing, he is most likely still talking about his friend. A friend who helped him find his voice and who helped my mom heart. I can’t thank Mr. Aaron enough for the kindness he shows our son and for being the inspiration to help him find his voice.”

Posted by Mallory Kate on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mallory Oosterhouse of North Carolina. Follow her on Instagram hereSubmit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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