McDonalds Worker With Down Syndrome Celebrates 30 Years on the Job

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 28, 2016   |   1:06PM   |   Washington, DC

A McDonalds worker in Australia is celebrating 30 years on the job — proof that someone with the disability can experience and enjoy life like anyone else.

Staff at the fast-food restaurant threw a party this week to mark the 30th anniversary of one staff member’s first day on the job. Russell O’Grady, 48, who has Down’s syndrome, first came to the restaurant on a work experience placement organized by a government program that provide job placement services for people with disabilities.

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McDonald’s managers quickly recognised Russell’s commitment to the job – and three decades on he’s still there, working three days a week clearing trays, sweeping the floor and greeting customers.

“It really helps him, he gets a lot of social interaction and makes him feel like part of the community,” Jobsupport trainer Nikita Vandaru told

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“When I watch him work, every second customer will stop and talk to him. He’s got a huge smile on his face every time they come.”

Russell’s father Geoff O’Grady told the Daily Mail that his son had become something of a local celebrity thanks to his job at the restaurant: “People stop him on the street and shake his hand. He’s very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don’t believe it.”

Russell is planning on retiring in a couple of years – at which point he’ll be matching the 32 years of service achieved by another McDonald’s worker we reported on earlier this year.

That other worker, Freia David, was the subject of a LifeNews profile earlier this year.

The heartwarming story of Needham’s Freia David has trended on Facebook and been covered in newspapers around the country. After 32 years, Freia has retired from her job at the McDonald’s in Needham, Massachusetts, this past week, yet what really is drawing the attention is not the length of her service, but the fact that Freia has Down syndrome.

Freia was a hard worker, showing up five days a week, always arriving early, with a ready smile for customers and co-workers. She was by all accounts a model employee. Her co-workers and employers and customers certainly thought so, enough that they threw her a retirement party at the restaurant last Saturday.

The job had meant everything to David, her mother said. It had been “her life.”

But when David announced she was leaving, how much she meant to the restaurant instantly became clear. Management hung a banner celebrating her 32 years and invited the community to a retirement party.