This is Luis Tamarez, and he was born with cerebral palsy. Becayse of his condition, he spent the first four years of his life on a wheelchair or crawling around.
Then the staff at his school, North Main Street elementary in Pleasantville, New Jersey, learned about a device called an Upsee that allows a child to experience the sensation of walking through being strapped to an adult who guides his or her movements.
The staff was eager to get Luis into one of these devices, but the cost – $500 — proved prohibitive. The group planned to hold a fundraiser, but fate had other plans.
Substitute teacher Yorel Browne was working as an Uber driver one night in December when he told a passenger about Luis and the device that would change his life. Before Browne could even finish his story however, local businessman Jim Burke said he would be willing to buy the device for Luis.
“It was a no-brainer. It touched me. It didn’t even take a split second. It was a very easy decision,” said Burke about his offer.
When the device finally arrived, Burke and Browne were invited to Luis’s classroom to see the young boy take his first steps with the help of his aide, Collins Days.
“He was just overjoyed and smiling. … I remember him saying, ‘I’m walking,'” Burke said.
Burke said seeing the boy’s elated reaction was life changing – and worth every penny.
“I gave $500 and got a million dollar smile,” he said through tears.