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We often hear about college students joining Mcdonald’s to support themselves while they are young. But meet Mr. Russell O’Grady, an ex-employee of Mcdonald’s who took great pride in managing customers and cleaning the restaurant for more than 30 years.

Image Source: Facebook/ Victoria Pagano-Hummel

Despite fighting Down’s Syndrome all his life,  Russell joined Mcdonald’s when he was 18 years old. The Australian Government had organized an initiative at that time, Job support, to place intellectually disabled people in different jobs for work experience and that is where Russell first got the chance to earn a living for himself.

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His dedication and hard work for even the smallest of tasks at the restaurant was valued since day one and later he was also rewarded with a full-time job at Northmead’s Mcdonalds in the west of Sydney. Throughout his time at Mcdonald’s, Russell’s daily duties included cleaning the restaurant, serving customers and packing party boxes. He was also assigned to assist in the kitchen during various shifts.

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If you do a job with all your heart then success is just bound to happen as Mcdonald’s today count him as one of the most valuable employees, their company has ever had. The supervisor of Northmead’s unit, Courtney Purcell was also in all praise for Russell on his retirement. He further told that Russell was extremely popular among customers who used to come to the restaurant every day just to meet him.

“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. 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,”

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Russell’s family is extremely proud of the way he has progressed in life and how people still come up to greet him whenever he goes out with his father.  

“He’s very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don’t believe it.” Thanks to his career, my son has a different outlook on life now.” his father, Geoff O’Grady said.

For Russell, his disability was just an excuse which never interrupted in his success as recalling one of the incidents with him, Russell’s father told

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“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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When Russell became a part of McDonald’s, there was a wide misconception that people with disabilities would not be able to perform well at jobs. Companies used to discriminate against such candidates. But Russell proved himself to be an example for people like him and organizations that need to break such barriers.

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After turning 50 years old recently Russell now believes that this was the right time to say goodbye to Mcdonald’s and hence, he has already planned to spend the rest of his spare time at Northmead Bowling Club with his tenpin bowling.

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