When people go to the car wash, their goal is usually pretty simple: wash their car. But five-year-old Jude Rudics sees so much more than just soap and water cascading over vehicles.
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Over the past few months, not many (if any) days pass by when Jude isn’t at the car wash.
“Ready to roll!” Jude shouted Thursday morning, as he and his dad Brandon prepared to head into the Mint Smartwash in Lethbridge.
The sights and sounds are so special to him, the Rudics go through even when their car is already spotless.
This passion led Brandon to approach management to tell them how much the car wash meant to his son.
“(I told them) my boy loves the car wash, so we come through every single day,” Brandon said. “And he asked me why, so I told him, ‘He has autism and it helps calm him and soothe him.”
The company was touched by Jude’s love for their car wash and management gave Brandon a business card to set up future meetings. It didn’t take Jude long to find the card when Brandon brought it home.
“I had the card on my desk and Jude saw the Mint logo,” Brandon recalled. “He went and got it and put tape on it and put it on his lapel on his shirt…and he starts walking around the house saying, ‘Dad I work at the car wash.’ I just thought it was the cutest thing ever.”
A short time later, a meeting was set up during which Jude was given free swag and car washes. One of his favourite items was a Mint Smartwash shirt, which he only takes off reluctantly when his parents insist.
The company now recognizes Jude as an honorary assistant manager. On Thursday, he waived people into the wash bay with a big grin on his face and even monitored the security cameras.
“It actually means so, so, so much… We weren’t sure how they’d feel about us coming every day,” Jude’s mom Hope said. “It’s an unlimited membership, yes, but there’s usually some sort of limit to that kind of thing. For them to be so understanding and accepting is huge.”
According to Chinook Autism Society president Sarah Villebrun, Jude isn’t alone in his love for the car wash.
“Persons with disabilities all over just love Mint Carwash,” Villebrun said. “Since it’s opened it’s been one of the greatest things for the disability community, I’d have to say. They’ve got a ton of colours and I know the noise in there is almost similar to white noise, which is really big for a lot of people.”
Lethbridge Mint Smartwash general manager Shad Nelson said his team is looking at bringing in the Chinook Autism Society to check out the car wash.
“I’m thinking maybe we’ll bring them in for a tour and pack a cargo van full and do a couple of rounds a couple different times in the day. Nothing set in stone, but we’re definitely looking to think of something to do with these guys…To be quite honest, we’re here to clean cars. It’s just the cherry on top that other people are getting help through it.”
As for the Rudics, they have the cleanest car in Lethbridge, thanks to Jude.