The mom was confused and asked the girl why she wanted to be dropped off there. Her daughter said she wanted to talk to the man who spoke to all the students before school.
Her maternal instincts quickly kicked in. She had to find out who this man was and what he wanted. She had always taught her daughter not to talk to strangers, and she was disappointed that the girl did it anyway. She wanted to know who this man was. Nothing prepared her for what she discovered at the famed street corner.
Gina Arnold was a single mother from El Dorado Hill, California, who was doing her best to take care of her daughter, Audrey. But as her daughter grew up, she knew she’d have to make peace with the thought that other people would influence her upbringing.
Teachers, classmates, and others might become examples for her to follow. But what if her daughter picked the wrong person?
Gina Arnold was driving her daughter, Audrey, to Marina Village Middle School in El Dorado Hills, California, one morning when Audrey asked to be dropped off at the corner.
Gina usually dropped her off at the school entrance and had already passed the corner. Why would her daughter want to be dropped off there? What was going on?
Parents want their children to grow up ready and equipped for the world. Audrey was no exception. Besides learning from teachers, parents try their best to teach them even more life lessons that can only be learned outside school.
But what if the lessons are coming from other people besides family and teachers? And what if those people don’t have the best intentions?
As a single mother, times weren’t always easy. Gina had to make sacrifices to be able to afford food and school supplies for her daughter.
But no sacrifice was too little for her daughter. Gina did everything she could and worked very hard to care for her daughter, Audrey. But things were about to become even more challenging for the small family.
Gina was desperate to provide for her daughter. The money wasn’t enough anymore, and she knew she had to do something soon.
So she started looking for a second job. Audrey asked everyone she knew and called all the wanted ads. Eventually, she found a good part-time job, which meant things would drastically change at home.
The extra job meant more money for Gina and her daughter but also less time spent together. Now the mother had less time for Audrey, as she had to work more hours every day.
The new arrangement upset Audrey and made her lash out at her mother. The 8-year-old girl was frustrated and began to feel abandoned. But her mother didn’t have a choice. They needed the money.
Audrey acted even more distant toward her mother. Gina was trying to juggle her time between her job and her daughter. Whatever the mother tried, she didn’t seem to be able to reach out to Audrey.
The daughter even said, “I don’t need you anymore. I have a new friend. His name is Wally, and he’s awesome. He has time for me.” Who was this friend? The mother began to worry. What if he was some dangerous man?
Besides acting out, Audrey started to come late from school. Gina was worried but couldn’t help but blame herself for the whole thing.
The most disturbing thing was the reason why she was late. Audrey said that she stayed outside and played with her friend, Wally, almost daily. Gina’s heart froze. What exactly was her daughter doing after school? She had to find out before something terrible happened.
The mother had decided she needed to take action. The next day Gina accompanied her daughter to meet Wally.
When she got to the corner next to the school, she couldn’t believe her eyes. A man was surrounded by children of the same age as her daughter. She quickly approached him, ready to give him a piece of her mind.
When Gina finally met the man, she was amazed. He was old and seemed very friendly. The old man Audrey and the other kids talked to was Wally Richardson, a 94-year-old local who always went to that corner every morning to share life lessons with all the kids who passed by that place.
Wally would tell them many stories and give the children advice on how to live a better life. Gina was relieved. The old man was actually a good influence on Audrey, and she had nothing to worry about.
“Be kind whenever possible” was one of the things Wally would tell the school children. He had made it a habit to hype up the kids and try to brighten their day.
“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much…unless you do what’s right!” Wally would also say regularly. Wally was also known as Mr. Knuckles because he would always give them fist bumps before the kids went to school.
Wally Richardson was a 94-year-old veteran who always went to that corner every morning to bring a smile to the face of the kids who passed by there.
He was retired and decided to use his life experience to teach kids a thing or two about the world. He was a joy to talk with, and all the kids loved him.
Gina was glad she went with Audrey to that corner, or she may not have met Mr. Knuckles. During the first few years, Wally and his wife would eat their breakfast before walking to the same corner and meeting the Marina Village Middle School students.
Unfortunately, his wife had suffered health problems and could no longer join him in this morning ritual.
Wally continued this tradition without his wife every school day because he wanted to share more kindness with the world and the best thing to do that is to start with the young ones.
“It takes one significant adult in a kid’s life, and you can impact them forever, and Wally is that person with kids,” Cheryl Olson, the school superintendent, said when she shared his story on their social media. The world needs more people like Wally.