Saturday, March 9, 2013


              5 Year old Milo Castillo
                         Michael Garcia

Bravo for Michael Garcia
How stupid, hateful, and cruel can "people" be? 

Michael Garcia, a waiter at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib steak house in Houston,Texas has won a lot of fans after refusing to serve a customer who made a cruel comment about a special needs child that he did not want to be sat next to.

The incident took place at Laurenzo’s, where Michael Garcia has been working for more than two years and enjoys a good rapport with many of his regular customers.

On Wednesday night he greeted two groups of regulars , Kim Castillo and her family, including five-year-old Milo who has Down syndrome, and another group who sat in the adjacent booth.

Not long after Garcia seated the second family they requested to be moved. Garcia duly obliged and seated them elsewhere, until he heard the man say, "Special needs children need to be special somewhere else".

Garcia was thrown by the cruel remark and couldn't believe that the man had said it in front of his own children. Although worried that he might lose his job, Garcia felt he had to something. "It was very disturbing, my personal feelings just took over and I told this man, I'm sorry, I can't serve you".


That family quickly left, but not before Garcia told him: 'How could you say that? How could you say that about a beautiful five-year-old angel?'

Kim Castillo says she noticed the family leaving, but didn’t think anything else about it until one of Garcia’s co-workers told them what had happened. "If he had been obnoxious, which like any other five-year-old he can be, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the family asking to move", she said.

Of the other family, she said, "It's sad that they're ignorant." Castillo, 40, wrote in an online post that she has been taking Milo out to eat since he was born, and said her son, her only child with husband Eric, is better behaved than most children and was not misbehaving that night.

Milo, age 5: His mom takes him out to restaurants frequently and says he's very well behaved. 

His mom takes him out to restaurants frequently and says he's very well behaved. “Was he loud?” she wrote. “Maybe a little in the moment, but honestly, the adults at our table were three times louder than he was. ... If he had been obnoxious, which like any other 5-year-old he can be, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the family asking to move.”

Garcia, knew the Castillos, and has his own special way of greeting Milo. “Normally when they arrive, I pick him up at the door and carry him to the table", he stated.

As news of Garcia’s action spread across the Internet, with praise for him on the restaurant’s Facebook page and elsewhere, customers have been seeking out Garcia.
TODAY reports reports that Garcia, along with other waiters, reportedly stopped by Milo’s table to hear the child talk about his birthday and hear some new words he learned (Milo has delayed speech).

As word has traveled about the heroic Michael Garcia, particularly on Facebook, the restaurant has apparently seen a boom in customers. Candace Roberts, a server at Laurenzo’s, describes business as “huge” with people wandering in to shake Garcia’s hand.

When the restaurant’s management found out about the conflict, they expressed disapproval from a managerial standpoint, but agreed with Garcia’s behavior on a personal level. But after the family left the restaurant, locals caught wind of the story and began to praise Garcia for making a stand on behalf of special needs children. 

“We can’t lose track of what this is about,” Garcia said in response to the attention his story has received. “It’s about Milo, it is about educating ourselves and when people are different, why should you treat them any different?”

The waiter said fear of the unknown sometimes prompts people to act in a rude manner around people with special needs, but that people like Milo are a “gift from God”.

Discrimination against people with disabilities is a widespread world problem. A research Team at Liverpool John Moores University’s Centre for Public Health, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Violence Prevention, and WHO’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability published a study in July 2012. 

These are the first studies to confirm the magnitude of the problem and they provide the strongest available evidence on violence against children and adults with disabilities. They also highlight the lack of data on this topic from low- and middle-income countries.

The review on the prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities, published in July 2012, found that overall children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children. 

The review indicated that children with disabilities are 3.7 times more likely than non-disabled children to be victims of any sort of violence, 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence, and 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence. 

Children with mental or intellectual impairments appear to be among the most vulnerable, with 4.6 times the risk of sexual violence than their non-disabled peers.

The systematic review on violence against adults with disabilities, published in February 2012, found that overall they are 1.5 times more likely to be a victim of violence than those without a disability, while those with mental health conditions are at nearly four times the risk of experiencing violence.
The study found last year that in developed countries, 24 percent of mentally challenged  had been a victim of some form of violence in the preceding year. The figure is far greater in undeveloped countries where there are no such statistics kept.

Mentally challenged, disabled children are frequently discriminated against in other ways. 

The airlines’ spokesperson claimed they feared he would be disruptive, but the boy’s parents had spent a significant sum of money to purchase their child the ticket. The family also claims their son usually sleeps through flights and that the discrimination against him was unjust and unfounded.

About one in every 800 American babies is born with Down syndrome, and it is estimated that about 350,000 people in the United States, and just under 6 million people worldwide live with this condition today.(This condition affects people of all ages, races, religions and economic situations.)  

Even though the number of children born with the syndrome has been on the decline, discrimination against people with the disease continues to be a problem in a society where 38 percent of Americans know someone that suffers from the condition. 

The story quickly made headlines across the country and supporters have since sent him cards, gifts and donations in excess of $1,000, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Garcia said he appreciated the outpouring of funds, but that he wasn’t interested in keeping any of the money. He decided to donate it all to Milo’s school, the Rise School of Houston, the city’s first and only school that offers an integrated learning environment to children born with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities, the Chronicle reported.

The money will be used for a scholarship fund, according to FOX News.

"When you have something like this with someone who had no reason to be kind -- he doesn't have relatives with special needs, he's not a teacher -- but he did it out of a sense of what was right and from his heart, it gives us this hope," Ashley Kress, the school’s development director, told the Chronicle.

The school thanked Garcia for his generosity and outspokenness by throwing a celebration in his honor. But the kind waiter told Fox News that his main objective is that the story raises awareness and inspires more tolerance for kids with special needs.

“The children are the real heroes,” he told Fox News. “I don’t feel like a hero in any way. It’s the children. That’s what this is about, helping the children.”

Still, Garcia doesn’t think his actions were that big of a deal. “The children are the real heroes,” he explained. “I don’t feel like a hero in any way. It’s the children. That’s what this is about, helping the children.”

That this kind of "simple" act on his part has received so much publicity tells a lot about the current world we inhabit. Instead of this being a rare act of doing the right thing, it would be wonderful if this happened on a regular basis with more people acting morally instead of being indifferent, apathetic, and uninvolved when hatred rears its ugly head. 

It is also a horrible reflection of how much hate exists on the part of many people for anyone they consider "different". 

Some are calling Michael Garcia a hero. I prefer to think of him as a courageous, compassionate, caring human being who stood up for another less fortunate person, in this case a small child. We need many more good people like him to come forward.

Connor Long, an 18-year-old Colorado resident who suffers from Down syndrome, wrote an open letter to Garcia, outlining his gratitude for an action that he says is very rare.

“It is unfortunate that the act of a decent, caring, everyday human being willing to do the right thing is so rare,” he wrote in the letter, which was published on the website of the National Down Syndrome Society. “People with special needs don’t need more heroes, we need more everyday people like you who are willing to do and say what is fair and supportive, simply because it is the right thing to do and needs to be done. That is not a special need – it is an ordinary need.”

It is unfortunate that the act of a decent, caring, everyday human being willing to do the right thing is so rare

Discrimination and hatred knows no bounds, no level of how low those who practice it will sink. 

The truth is anyone who treats another this way doesn’t think much of their self, either

For those who believe they are too superior than the rest of us, take my advice and crawl back into the cave you came from, just GO AWAY