Baumhower: Magical Myles melted my heartWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
Not many times do you get to meet a Chief Operating Officer of a chain of restaurants. Not very often does a COO fly to Toledo, Ohio, to serve ice cream to a school full of kids.
This is what 9-year-old Myles Eckert and his story can do.
No one was suppose to know. The media wasn’t invited. Friendly’s Ice Cream COO Steve Weigel wanted it that way. What he was doing with a full-size trailer full of ice cream wasn’t about publicity; it was about paying it forward — a man so moved by Myles’ story, that he showed it last month at his sales conference for all his franchise owners and vowed to do more things like Myles did by paying it forward everyday.
Myles’ simple act of kindness made the COO of Friendly’s change his philosophy and the way they want to do business.
I had known about this secret ice cream party for over a month, since the first call was made. I knew it was not going to be your typical dessert soiree with a man scooping vanilla frozen goodness out of a five-gallon plastic container.
When Friendly’s contacted the Eckert family, they told them they wanted to throw an ice cream party in Myles’ honor. Once again this young Waterville boy decided he wanted to pay it forward, so he suggested having it at a school not his own. A couple of phone calls later and the Eckerts found a perfect match in a school worthy of such an event.
“TPS Proud” Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School is different. They have a unique mix of students. I was invited to be a part of this secret event because I could relate with 30 percent of the students who attend. You see, almost one-third of the students are special needs, with a majority as beautifully different as my son, blessed with autism.
I watched class after class file in and experience this amazing frozen dairy product. I witnessed student after student smiling from ear-to-ear knowing they were part of a special moment, some wanting Myles’ autograph or a picture. Every student knew the story. They knew about his dad’s sacrifice, why Myles was being honored, why Friendly’s was there. I experienced firsthand the cosmic energy of TPS Superintendent Romules Durant as he commanded a packed lunchroom and connected with every student. I saw a boy walk up and pull a folded-up dollar bill out of his pocket and hand it to Myles. It looked like the boy had had that dollar bill for years and he gave it away in a second. He wanted Myles to have it.
That was the moment I knew. The feels were winning this fine afternoon in South Toledo.
When a child with autism connects, is touched and moved by the story of this 9 year-old boy’s $20 gift, it proves autistic children can understand emotion and relate to things that are not black and white. I felt firsthand the power of what Myles did and continues to do. I had conversations with children like my son who were moved by Myles.
All this young man did this afternoon was throw an ice cream party for a school he doesn’t attend, for children he had never met, inspire a COO of Friendly’s to hop on a plane and bring a trailer-truck full of ice cream, allow his story to act as a learning lesson for special needs children who were rewarded with the nation’s best frozen treat — sounds so simple right?
This boy and his family have an amazing ability to make a grown-ass man cry on demand. It should be a bullet-point on his résumé.
I was “Myles’d” today, my heart changed forever by something I got to experience, with conversations I never thought I would have.
To Myles: You may not realize what you gave me, but I’ll do my best to pay it forward. Thank you for your gift today.
Jeremy Baumhower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jeremytheproduc.
Tags: Friendly's, Friendly's Ice Cream, Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School, ice cream, ice cream party, Jeremy Baumhower, Myles Eckert, pay it forward, Romules Durant, Steve Weigel, Tiffany Eckert, Toledo Public Schools, TPS proud