There are few things that Cobey Thomas of Knoxville, Tennessee, enjoys more than swinging.
Cobey has autism and finds the rhythmic swaying of a swing extremely therapeutic for his sensory issues. His mother Jenifer Bright Thomas says that he’s a completely different person after a session on the swing set; he’s much calmer and more focused.
Cobey had been using the swings in his town since he was a child to cope with his sensory issues, but as he grew older it soon became clear that he was outgrowing them. The seats, all meant for children’s smaller frames, began pinching his hips and tilting dangerously as he moved. To top things off, Cobey kept growing taller and taller every single day, finally topping out at a whopping six feet ten inches tall!
When Cobey started coming home covered in bruises from the swings at the local park, Jane knew that she had to find another way to give him his swing therapy. She began inquiring around town, searching for a company that could build a swing large enough to accommodate her son’s frame, but everywhere she turned she hit a brick wall. Companies refused to take the job because of potential insurance liabilities.
Frustrated, Jenifer tried one more company, and that’s when everything started to change.
Allen Ellison, owner of Mr. Handyman, heard what was happening with Cobey’s swing project and immediately stepped up to help. Allen explained that the city of Knoxville has always been good to him and his company, so he felt compelled to give back to the community in some way. After he told his team they all agreed that building this young man a sturdy new swing was the right thing to do.
“We just get excited about those types of opportunities to give back,” said Allen. Just before Christmas a crew showed up and began to build a 10-foot swing in the Thomas’s backyard.
The whole office pitched in to help build the swing, and after it was finished Cobey couldn’t wait to try it out. As he hopped on the swing and began to pump his legs, Allen says several of the burly construction workers had to step aside to conceal the tears in their eyes. Everyone was so happy to be able to grant Cobey his wish.
For Jenifer, the good news was just beginning. As she’d stood and watched the workers putting the swing into place, she had been worrying about how much this project would set her back. But at the end of the day, Allen approached her and told her that the new swing was on him. Everyone at Mr. Handyman agreed that this project was a gift for the Thomas family.
“It was like the best Christmas gift ever!” said Jenifer. “It was just such a kind gesture. They didn’t have to do that.”
It’s always a beautiful sight when a community comes together to help out. Allen’s company absolutely did not have to take on this project, but they knew they could provide a family with something incredibly useful. Cobey continues to use his swing every single day, and each day he and Jenifer are grateful to the people who made it happen.
Watch the video below to see Cobey swinging on his new swing, and be sure to share.
All this man with autism wanted to do was swing. But that got harder once he grew to 6'10". That's when a local business stepped in to help out.
Posted by USA TODAY on Friday, April 5, 2019
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