McDonald’s Employee With Down’s Syndrome Retires After Serving Smiles For More Than 30 Years

Russel started working in 1984 when he was 18-years-old. He served at McDonald’s for 32 years. He decided to retire at the age of 50.

We all know how hard it is to work in one place for a long time. How long is too long for all of us? 2 years, maybe 5? But this man has worked at the same place for more than three decades and he has now retired. 50-year-old Russell O’Grady was a beloved McDonald’s employee with Down’s Syndrome. He has worked at the same restaurant for 32 years! According to Independent, “he first came to the restaurant in 1984 on a work experience placement organized by Jobsupport, an Australian government initiative that helps people with intellectual disabilities find paid employment when he was 18 years old.”
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Thanks to his impeccable work ethic, he was given a full-time job at the restaurant in Northmead, in west Sydney. Over the last three decades, his job included cleaning, serving customers and packing party boxes in addition to working shifts in the kitchen. His supervisor Courtney Purcell mentioned that he had become an icon of sorts with people from all over coming to the restaurant just to meet him
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She said, “We’ve got regular customers who come in to see Russell on Thursday and Friday, and the staff looks after him, so we’re going to miss him.” O’Grady’s brother Lindsey said that his diligence to work had made his family incredibly proud. “He’s kind of blase about it but loves his work very much. He’s pretty cheeky sometimes. He’s my big brother and he keeps me in line,” he said reports The Daily Mail.
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His father, Geoff O’Grady said that his son was so well-loved and liked that people would come up to him and shake his hand. “He’s very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don’t believe it.” Thanks to his career, his son has a different outlook on life. “Somebody said to him ‘are you handicapped?’ and his answer was ”I used to be when I went to school, but now I work at McDonald’s,” he said.
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Russel joined McDonald’s at a time when people with disabilities were rarely given the opportunity to work, perhaps with employers thinking they would not be able to perform well. Once Russel joined the workforce, he proved his mettle as a responsible and valuable employee.
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After 32 years with McDonald’s and after a lot of contemplation, Russell decided that retirement was the next best step for him. Russell is reportedly an ardent tenpin bowler and spends lots of his time at Northmead Bowling Club, that’s where he’ll be spending lots of his free time.

What is Down Syndrome? According to the National Down Syndrome Society, “In every cell in the human body, there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm – although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.”


It is said that approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, making it the most common chromosomal condition. About 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, Down Syndrome wasn’t discovered until the late nineteenth century. John Langdon Down is often heralded as the “father” of this syndrome. He was an English physician who accurately published a description of a person with Down syndrome in 1866. While other people recognized the syndrome characteristics, it was Down who gave the condition a distinct entity.

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The part that I enjoy about taking photos of people is to capture a moment of joy and love, and freeze those moments for eternity • when I succeed, I feel a sense of accomplishment that I find hard to put into words • seeing and feeling the reaction of joy and happiness over something that you created yourself is the biggest reward • many moments stick in my mind, but two have dominated so far • and these moments both include children with special needs • the first moment was capturing a girl with cerebral palsy, holding her mother‘s hand while walking without a walking aid after a successful operation • her mother told me before it was her biggest wish to walk like this with her and I felt honoured to be the person to photograph it for her • the other image is my friend Esther @ourlifeinthealps who radiates with love and happiness when she holds, hears or sees her special boy • and when her girls join to suffocate him with love then it is more than evident: no matter how our children are, they are here to be loved and to be grateful for • and their smiles tell us everything, they are thankful for our love and that alone is worth having them, with special needs and everything else included ✨ 📷 @andreajacobphoto

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