Australian Russell O’Grady has retired after 32 years at McDonald’s. While such a long career at one company is remarkable for anyone, it is even more remarkable for Russell, who was born with Down syndrome.
Russell started working at the Northmead McDonald’s in 1986, after being placed by JobSupport, an organization that helps find employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. At the time he started working, people with intellectual disabilities often faced discrimination in the workplace, but Russell helped change attitudes in the workforce.
Wynn Visser, assistant manager of JobSupport, said that Russell has been a perfect example of why employers shouldn’t discriminate against people with intellectual disabilities:
Russell’s impact on people in his community is without doubt exceptional.
Everybody knows him and they really love him because he always stops to shake hands and say ‘Hi’ to everyone he knows.
Russell’s father is thankful for JobSupport’s help in getting Russell a job he loved so much:
Without that initiative, lots of people like Russell wouldn’t have the jobs they do today and they wouldn’t have the reward that gives them, which is pride, a boost of their self-esteem, and feeling important and belonging in society.
Russell plans on staying busy in his retirement with dog therapy, bowling, and activities at his local retirement home