John Miller is a special man. This much is obvious if you spend even a few minutes speaking with him. But once you understand the full scope of the story of the last 10 years of his life, you come to realize just how truly special this man is.
John is a school bus driver for Hamilton Southeastern, and he is one of 35 drivers who voluntarily drives the bus for disabled and special needs children. If you can imagine how much patience and hard work it would take to drive a school bus in general (dealing with a bus full of loud and excitable children or teenagers at once!), you can stretch your imagination farther to imagine what it would be like to drive the bus for disabled and special needs children. This was something John wanted to do, however – it was a way in which he felt he could give back to the community around him – and over the last ten years in particular, he has had an even greater impact than he could ever have imagined having.
Ten years ago, for the first time, Lizzie Ford stepped onto the bus as a second-grader with cerebral palsy. Lizzie’s parents had just separated, and she needed a sort of “anchor” in her life – something or someone to make her feel like everything was safe and normal. Before long, this was what John Miller became to her.
John has been described as having a special knack for handling the children on his bus – a knack for making them feel safe and comfortable – but for one reason or another, John and Lizzie clicked in a particularly special way, forming a strong bond of friendship and mentor ship, and when that first year ended, John requested that he be put on Lizzie’s route again. For five years, John drove that same route – specifically requesting that he remain on that route each new summer.
Around the time Lizzie neared the end of her seventh grade year, she asked John to promise her he would remain her bus driver until she graduated high school. At the time, John was contemplating retirement, but when he mentioned this to Lizzie, she remained persistent, requesting once more that John promise to remain her bus driver until she graduated high school. So what did John do? He made this promise – and he stuck to it, pushing his retirement back five years in order to ensure he would remain Lizzie’s bus driver through the end of high school.
This last spring, Lizzie graduated with a 4.2 GPA and scholarship offers from numerous schools.
This fall, John will return to his job driving the school bus for disabled and special needs children. He is pushing back his retirement yet again; as he put it, “There are other children to take care of.”
If you ask Lizzie, she will tell you just how much she owes to John Miller’s friendship, mentorship, and guidance; and now, even more children will continue having the opportunity to enjoy the special gift John provides.