Russell O’Grady is a 50 year-old man who first started at his local McDonald’s in Sydney, Australia in 1986 when he was just 18 years-old. Back then, it was far less common for disabled people to have careers for themselves, but Russell was not about to let his Down’s syndrome hold him back from working for a living.
Over the years, Russell became one of the most popular employees at the restaurant.
“We’ve got regular customers who come in to see Russell on Thursday and Friday, and the staff look after him, so we’re going to miss him,” said his supervisor, Courtney Purcell.
His father Geoff said that people have even stopped his son on the street to shake his hand.
“He’s very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don’t believe it,” said the proud father.
Russell began working at McDonald’s as part of the Job Support scheme. With his hard work, he was able to move up through the ranks and secure a full-time job packing party boxes.
Job Support assistant manager Kate O’Grady explained that Russell’s time at McDonald’s affected multiple generations of workers in the store.
“In fact there’s a man who worked with Russell when he was a teenager and now his children work with him,” she said. “He’s an incredibly social person and can hardly walk down the street without people stopping to chat with him or buy him a beer at the club.”
While Russell loved working at McDonald’s, he eventually decided that it would be best for him to retire because of his health. His tenure there has shown the world that disabilities don’t need to hold someone back from living a purposeful and full-fledged life!
Geoff said of his son “Somebody said to him, ‘Are you handicapped?’ and his answer was, ‘I used to be when I went to school, but now I go to work.’”