12-Year-Old Boy’s Flat Tire Leads To Unlikely Friendship And String Of Kind Acts

Sometimes things happen in our lives that feel like an inconvenience, but in reality, it is God at work doing something wonderful behind the scenes.

It was just another day in July for Raymond Butler, who was riding his bicycle back home from football practice when he got a flat tire. The seventh-grader who attends Marlington Middle School in Alliance, Ohio, slowed down and noticed someone who needed help there.

He saw Gary Barnes, whose right leg was amputated below the knee, sitting in his mobility scooter and using his self-propelled lawnmower to mow a section of his front lawn. “I saw this man who had only one leg. He was trying to cut his grass,” Raymond said. “I pulled in his driveway and offered to mow his grass for free.”

boy helps disabled man-1
Gary Barnes

Barnes was moved by Raymond’s kindness and he helped out the boy by placing an order for a replacement bike inner tube on Amazon and they had a little conversation. “He said, ‘I could mow your yard.’ I said, ‘Well, that would be nice. How much would you charge me to mow my grass?’ And, he replied shy and sheepishly, ‘Nothing, I’d do it for free,'” Barnes said.

Raymond cut the grass, but Barnes insisted on paying him $10. “It was just a flat-out general random act of kindness that he bestowed upon me,” Barnes said. He has nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren and now says that Raymond feels like another grandchild to him.

boy helps disabled man Raymond Butler

Meanwhile, Raymond has forged a friendship with Barnes and regularly comes around to help with the yard and odd jobs, and the two go fishing twice a week. This friendship means a lot to Barnes who has prostate cancer, which has spread to some of his bones.

“Right now, I’m on chemotherapy and so I go back in six months for all the other scans,” he said. “I have so much knowledge to share. I feel like I need to share it with someone, but I feel like I’m running out of time.” He wrote about his experience with the boy on Facebook and received hundreds of positive comments from the Alliance-area community.

Raymond stays with his grandparents who don’t own a car, and so he rides his bike to practice — about a 10-mile round trip. Barnes also helped Raymond new clothes for school by starting up a GoFundMe page, called “School clothes for Raymond.”

boy helps disabled man

“In less than 24 hours, we were pushing $1,000,” Barnes said, then it grew more than $1,500 as of Friday evening. Raymond said he was grateful for his favor to be returned but never expected this kind of generosity from Barnes. “I’m getting up into different grades and it’s getting more expensive for clothes,” he said. “It was nice.”

Barnes’s wife will be going with Raymond shopping on Monday and any extra money that is raised will be donated to help other kids in need. “Of course, we all know it’s been said a hundred times: It’ll make the world a better place if we’re all just kind to one another,” Barnes said.

Raymond is thrilled that his flat tire and decision to push a lawnmower is leading many people to pay it forward. He has a message for all of us, “When you grow up, to be kind to others and they will be kind back.”

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