NEW JERSEY (WTXF) - A 4-year-old local boy is taking his first steps thanks to the kindness of strangers.
When Luis Tamarez stood in front of his pre-K classmates harnessed to his aid Mr. Days there wasn't a dry eye to be found at North Main Street elementary.
"I was happy!" Luis told FOX 29.
Cerebral Palsy had forced Luis to use a wheelchair or to crawl to get around. But then the people at his school learned about a special piece of equipment—a vest, harness and connected sandals that allow the child to “walk” while attached to the adult guiding his movements.
But it wasn't cheap. 500 bucks! That's where fate stepped in.
Yorel Browne is a former elementary school principal in Pleasantville and now a substitute teacher at North Main Street. He's also an Uber driver. His passenger one fateful night back in December? The owner of a local heating, ventilation, and air conditioning company—and a fellow mason-- Jim Burke.
"I learned about this device and the teachers were talking about doing a fundraiser,” said Browne.
Burke cut him off. Forget the fundraiser, he said, I'll buy the device.
"It was the right thing to do," said Burke.
Soon, the little boy who couldn't walk was standing up in front of his friends and feeling ten feet tall.
"His reaction was pure joy,” said he teacher, Amy Cutler. “You could see his smile from ear to ear. My reaction was tears. I was so happy and so moved."
And in the room to see it all?
Yorel Browne and the stranger who opened his wallet and his heart.
Jim Burke was reluctant to talk to us. He’s not looking for praise. He knows there are those who will say he changed Luis' life.
“The truth is,” says Burke, “he changed mine. I gave $500 and got a million dollar smile."