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Thursday October 21st, 2021 8:06PM

Surprise gifts bring spirit to autistic McDonald’s fan

By The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A Columbus area mother’s request to help bring joy to her autistic son continues to spread a giving spirit.

Two months ago, Tiffany Winters posted this message on the Marion County Neighborhood Watch Facebook page:

“It might sound crazy but we are trying to find a McDonalds golden arch to install on our property for our autistic son Devon. He loves them and has drawn them a million times through the years. If anyone has any idea how to make it happen suggestions are welcome!”

The post was shared and eventually seen by Scott Owen, a manager at one of the McDonald’s restaurants owned by Tim and Tracy Johnstone in Panama City, Florida. They sent Devon the arches that were salvaged from their restaurant destroyed by Hurricane Michael in 2018. McDonald’s owner/operator John Pezold and his team in Columbus presented the arches to Devon and his family and gave them a special tour and meal at the Bradly Park restaurant in October.

Fast forward to December, when the Johnstones learned that the Winters family’s car needed repairs and that Tiffany and her husband, Brent, live on a fixed income. So this week of Christmas, they surprised Devon’s family with a vehicle and other holiday gifts.

“I have been overjoyed,” Tiffany told the Ledger-Enquirer. “I can’t find the right words for it, but very blessed. I can say that. I have been crying since yesterday.”

Transportation was provided for the family to travel from their Marion County home to the McDonald’s in Panama City.

“When we pulled in, they had the whole place decked out with banners and all the employees standing outside and waving and welcoming us,” Brent told the L-E. “… It was really awesome. They really received us like royalty. They treated Devon wonderfully. It was a special day.”

The Johnstones gave the family a 2018 Ford Escape with only 6,000 miles on it. And it came with six months of insurance, a four-year warranty and the tag, title and taxes already paid.

Among the presents Devon received were an iPad, noise-canceling headphones, art supplies and a McDonald’s uniform.

“Prayers and faith are real,” Brent said, “and there’s still a lot of good in the world.”

“In a year of unprecedented challenges, we’re reminded of how an act of kindness can uplift one another,” the Johnstones said in a news release. “It was truly such an honor to see Devon’s face light up when he saw his gifts, and to know that we could help him and his family means everything. I hope they all know how much Devon’s passion for the Golden Arches will continue to shine among us every day.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Business - Financial Markets
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