In the town of Orillia, at the local Home Hardware, there was a celebration on Monday morning, complete with balloons, cake and around two hundred local residents.
Mark Adams, born and raised in the town, celebrated his 25-year anniversary as employee at the store. A milestone that would be worth celebrating for anyone, but even more special for someone like Mark, who has Down syndrome.
“Mark is family,” said Chris Locke, second-generation owner of the Home Hardware. “Mark is the kind of guy that brings a smile to our face every single day and it was just a given we were going to do something to honour his 25 years.”
Aptly named “Mark Adams Day” — not only at the store but in Orillia, as well — there was a lineup outside the business to greet him with his famous high fives and big bear hugs.
Adams works as a door greeter. With an impeccable memory, he is able to recall the names of all the store’s clients and other details about them. He also helps in the store.
“The best part of my job is to meet customers,” he told Global News. “Customers are really very nice and very friendly.”
The 45-year-old started at the store while he was in high school and his teachers were looking for placements who have jobs for people with special needs.
His old principal Shirley Black, who was on-hand for the special event, said she was proud of Adams and what he has accomplished.
“It’s just so wonderful to see that other people are appreciating him too because he’s a delight,” she said. “From the time he was first in school he was very outgoing, just a very kind sweet man.”
For Adams, he said the celebration was a total surprise.
“This is wonderful,” he said. “I’m celebrating 25 years in the business and it’s really, I love it.”
Adams’ mother, Sharon Adams, who was also at the store to share in the experience, said when she found out she would be having a son with Down syndrome, she quit her job as a registered nurse to focus on raising him.
“I really emphasized good manners, to respect authority and we always taught him to make sure you know who’s in charge,” she said. “… treat everyone equal, with good manners and courtesy.”
WATCH: Mark Adams has been working at the Home Hardware store in Orillia for 25 years and the town and business wanted to celebrate him in a big way.
As a gesture of appreciation, Adams was presented with a red suit jacket, like the ones some of the managers wear. The mayor of Orillia, Steve Clarke even stopped by for the event.
“You get to attend many events as mayor but this day in particular stands out,” he told Global News. “This is a sunshine city and Mark literally brings sunshine in everybody’s lives on a daily basis as soon as you walk through this door.”
Locke hopes other business owners and stores take note of Mark’s story and open their doors to people with Down syndrome and other special needs.
“It wasn’t a stretch to bring in somebody like Mark. Folks out there with Down syndrome and with learning disabilities … can be productive members and he’s an incredible part of this team,” he said.
“I would encourage other people to do the same with other folks in their community.”
—With files from Gabby Rodrigues