AVON, Ind. – For 59-year-old Ricky Hull, nothing beats a nice walk in the park on a warm spring day, especially when he gets to spend it with a new friend.
“I like walking,” Hull said while walking in Avon Town Hall Park with Avon Chief of Police Sean Stoops by his side.
With a smile brighter than his neon green shoes, it didn’t take long for Ricky’s friendship with Chief Stoops and the Avon Police Department to grow, starting last month on World Down Syndrome Day.
“Yeah, I'm working hard making money,” Hull said proudly.
He currently works five days a week at Sycamore Services. Last month, he used the money he made from his job to buy donuts for the police officers. While Chief Stoops said it's common for people to pop by with snacks or gifts, this visit was different.
"He’s kind of irresistible," smiled Stoops. "When he left, we just kinda started thinking about it a little bit and tried to figure out some way we could help Ricky reach his goal this year.”
That goal was for Ricky's annual Down Syndrome Indiana "Buddy Walk" team. Ricky told the officers about his goal for this year of raising nearly $590. The police took it a step further.
"We just thought to maybe pick up some donuts and drop them off at the Avon Police Department,” said Ricky's sister, Cheryl Carlton.
After their parents passed away 11 years ago, Ricky moved in with Cheryl and her husband in Avon. She helped him carry out his kind acts on World Down Syndrome Day.
"We bought the donuts and we dropped them off, and assumed that would be it... Suddenly I received an email that ‘Ricky's Walking Warriors’ (buddy walk team) had gotten a donation, and it was from the Avon Police Department.”
The donation was for more than $700. With the big gift, Ricky now has a new goal of $5,000. If he reaches it, Down Syndrome Indiana will put his smiling face on a billboard, for all of Indianapolis to see
"That would be amazing,” Carlton said as a bright smile came across her face. This was a moment she thought she would never see, especially knowing how far Down syndrome awareness has come since Ricky was born in 1960.
"The doctors just told my parents to put him in an institution and just forget about him,” Carlton said.
But with a billboard, he won't remain hidden.
"Everyone can see him and celebrate him now,” she said.
"His smile is infectious," added Chief Stoops. "Once you catch it, you can't get rid of it.”
The Hendricks County Fraternal Order of Police also donated in Ricky’s name.
For more information on Ricky's buddy walk team, click HERE.