Girl With Special Needs Forms Special Bond With Sanitation Worker

Some friendships are just too special! Words are not enough to describe the depth of the special bond this sanitation worker and girl with special needs share.

girl with special needs friendship

Emma Grace Johnson is a 5-year-old kid from Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Her highlight every week was meeting Elbert Berry, their sanitation worker. Tuesdays and Thursdays are so special for her because he gives her a visit every time he collects garbage in their community on the said days. Emma’s eyes light up and she immediately runs to him when his big garbage truck pulls over in front of their house.

Dear Emma had a rough start in life. She was born a “micro-preemie”. Verywell defines a micro-preemie as a baby who is born weighing less than 1 pound, 12 ounces (800 grams), or before 26 weeks gestation. She stayed for four months in NICU in Hungary to ensure that she would survive. She was then transferred to an orphanage and thankfully, was adopted by the Johnsons when she was three.

Laura Johnson, her mom, loved her dearly. The Johnsons created a safe refuge for Emma. Among the family members, Emma’s grandfather was the closest to her. He was not only a granddad for her, he was also her best friend. Unfortunately, things did not turn out well for them. He had heart surgery and needed to be isolated from them for quite some time to avoid contracting the COVID 19 virus. He later on died and this broke Emma’s heart to pieces.

It has been said that every cloud has a silver lining. This was proven to be true when Emma met a new friend amid grief and pain. Emma and Elbert’s bond started with her fascination with big trucks. With a wave of her hand, the friendship started to blossom. This little miss wanted to be with Elbert everywhere she goes. Creativity took over and she captured a picture of him with her. This way, she could take Elbert with her wherever she goes. She also has this picture with her even in school.

This sweet, young lady took it a notch higher. She surprised Elbert with a handmade card on his birthday. She wrote, “I love you” and placed their picture inside. Elbert was so touched! What he did in return was truly heartwarming! He gave her a necklace with a photo locket, with their picture inside. It also has a message engraved at the back which stated, “You are the best part of my day!”


“He is the kind of person we should all try to be more like,” said Laura. If all people will be a bit more accepting and loving, the bond which Emma and Elbert share will just be a norm.

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