"His reaction was pure joy,” the boy's teacher said

By Tiare Dunlap
Updated January 20, 2017 05:12 PM

When Luis Tamarez stood in front of his pre-K classmates for the first time, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

“His reaction was pure joy,” Luis’s teacher, Amy Cutler, told Fox 29.“You could see his smile from ear to ear. My reaction was tears.”

Because Luis was born with cerebral palsy, he spent the first four years of his life crawling or using a wheelchair to get around.

Then the staff at his school, North Main Street elementary in Pleasantville, New Jersey, learned about a device called an Upsee that allows a child to experience the sensation of walking through being strapped to an adult who guides his or her movements.

Credit: Source: Fox 29

The staff was eager to get Luis into one of these devices, but the cost – $500 — proved prohibitive. The group planned to hold a fundraiser, but fate had other plans.

Substitute teacher Yorel Browne was working as an Uber driver one night in December when he told a passenger about Luis and the device that would change his life.

Before Browne could finish his story, the passenger, local businessman Jim Burke, chimed in with an offer to buy the device for Luis.

“It was a no-brainer. It touched me. It didn’t even take a split second. It was a very easy decision,” Burke told ABC News of his offer.

When the device finally arrived, Burke and Browne were invited to Luis’s classroom to see the young boy take his first steps with the help of his aide, Collins Days.

“He was just overjoyed and smiling. … I remember him saying, ‘I’m walking,’” Burke said.

Burke said seeing the boy’s elated reaction was life changing – and worth every penny.

“I gave $500 and got a million dollar smile,” he said through tears.