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Son with Disabilities Says, "Dad, You're My Hero"

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, there's a restaurant called Tim's Place. It's named after Tim Harris, a young man with Down syndrome who started the business in 2010 with help from his dad, Keith. Six days a week, Tim greets each customer at the door. The 27-year-old young man calls his restaurant "the world's friendliest restaurant."

In a recent episode of NPR's Storycorps, he tells his dad, "I wanted to own a restaurant ever since I was a kid. That was my dream." When he was in high school, Tim decided he wanted to go to college. So in 2004, he moved about three hours away to study food service, office skills, and restaurant hosting at Eastern New Mexico University.

The separation wasn't easy at first—for Tim or his parents. Tim told his dad, "I pretty much, like, stayed in my room because I was upset, missing my mom and dad. That was the saddest part. I cried in my pillow. My pillow was nothing but tears. So I decided to knock it off and make friends. It didn't take long."

Now Tim lives in his own apartment within walking distance of his restaurant. Every day, when customers come into the restaurant, Tim says, "When they see me, they just melt into my arms for a hug," he says. The hugs are tallied on a digital counter on the wall, which now displays more than 33,000 hugs.

On the episode Tim asks, "[Dad], how does it feel having a son with a disability?" His dad replies, "You know, Tim, when you were born I was filled with a lot of doubts about whether I could be a good enough dad to be your dad. And many years later now, I'm so happy to have you in my life. I'm very, very proud of you and what you've become."

"Dad, you are the most loving dad ever. And Mom, too," Tim says. "You guys are my superheroes. And having you in my life … that makes me special."

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Fathers; Fatherhood; Mentors—the important role of encouragement that fathers or father-figures and mentors can play in the lives of their children; (2) Disabilities—the way that persons with disabilities can make contributions to society and the church; (3) Spiritual gifts—the way that those who seem the "weakest" among us actually have wonderful ways to contribute and bless the body of Christ. (4) Dignity—the dignity of each person made in the image of God.

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