Tennessee Mom Pens Heartfelt Note to Apple Employee for Helping Her 9-Year-Old Son with Special Needs
"One day, you will get 'something' that makes life hard and you will want somebody like Andrew to sit down next to you on the floor," LynnMarie Rink tells PEOPLE
Sometimes, seemingly small moments can be absolutely life-changing.
A Nashville, Tennessee, mom was moved beyond words after a routine shopping trip gone awry turned into a powerful life lesson.
In an emotional post shared to Facebook, LynnMarie Rink thanked an Apple Store employee for patiently helping her and her 9-year-old son James purchase an iPad on Sunday.
James, who has Down syndrome and autism, uses an iPad as a learning tool. With the help of a local organization, The Fiona Rose Murphey Foundation Charitable Trust, Rink received a donation to replace his original broken Apple device. The pair headed to the company’s Green Hills store in pursuit of the replacement last weekend, but the trip was momentarily halted when James accidentally ran into a clear glass wall at the shopping center.
Apple employee Andrew Wall noticed the pair sitting on the floor while James recuperated and walked over to see how he could help.
“Your employee asked, ‘What can I do for you?’ ” Rink wrote. “I said, ‘Well, we actually came here today to buy an iPad, which was donated to James, but if we’re going to proceed would you be willing to sell it to us and set it up down here on the floor?’ And so he did.”
Rink said that Wall sat on the floor with James to set up the new device. There are “no words to accurately describe how grateful I am,” Rink wrote of the special moment.
“He didn’t have to sit down on the floor with us,” she continued. “He could have easily waited for us to stand. Could have easily waited for us to come back another day. But he hung out with us in the midst of our pain. He even got a fist bump from James, and I snapped this photo.”
Rink said the experience reminded her to “always meet people where they are,” something she personally longs “to be better at.”
While Rink couldn’t initially remember the employee’s name, Wall was quickly tracked down after the post went viral. In a separate note, the Wrap Your Heart Around It author said she was able to get in touch with Wall on Facebook.
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“Hey Lynn, I want to say thank you so much for those kind words,” the 23-year-old wrote. “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, a Grammy-nominated musician, now hopes to get Wall on The Ellen Degeneres Show as part of the host’s #BeKindToOneAnother Campaign, which recognizes acts of kindness.
And her emotional Facebook post has now been shared more than 15,000 times.
“I have so many messages in my inbox and I’m trying to get to all of them to thank them for sharing their story with me. People are being vulnerable about their pain and that makes me want to hug them!” the devoted mom tells PEOPLE. “I understand that pain so well. That’s why Andrew’s actions were so important.”
When it comes to raising a child with Down syndrome and autism, Rink says she knows there are times when the people around her may feel “uncomfortable,” but that a little empathy can go a long way.
“We’re scared a lot! And we know they are loud and noisy. We know they make you feel uncomfortable! And although we feel sorry about that, we want you to suck it up and get that everyone gets ‘something’ in life and this is what we got. We are doing the best we can. One day, you will get ‘something’ that makes life hard and you will want somebody like Andrew to sit down next to you on the floor,” she says.
And as for how James is feeling after his incident in the Apple store, Rink says, “James loves his iPad. Mommy loves his iPad more! His head is fine. It was black and blue for a day or so, but all better. He’s a trooper – lives totally in the moment!”