Manager’s act of kindness for gym-goer with Down syndrome goes viral

Yahoo Lifestyle
A gym manager is being praised for going above and beyond for a member with down syndrome. (Photo: Facebook)
A gym manager is being praised for going above and beyond for a member with down syndrome. (Photo: Facebook)

A gym manager in Rhode Island is being recognized for going above and beyond for a member who arrived for his workout one day in the wrong footwear.

Daniel Cote, 28, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he wasn’t very good at accepting help from those who tried to steer him in the right direction as a kid. But now, he’s the one offering aid and learning about the importance of doing a good deed after seeing how this recent event impacted the life of a man named CJ.

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“I met CJ for the first time when I was doing my 9 to 5 shift at Planet Fitness,” Cote explains. “I could tell from the start that CJ was a very energetic man that enjoyed coming to the gym to work out.”

He also noticed that the 22-year-old, who has Down syndrome, enjoys having a routine. And on the day that CJ arrived to the gym with boots on instead of his sneakers, Cote knew that that routine was about to be ruined.

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“Seeing that his routine had been disrupted that day due to not having the proper footwear to work out made me want to do something to fix that,” Cote says. “I knew that just providing CJ with sneakers to work out would make him incredibly happy that his routine would not be altered.”

So the gym manager made sure to get CJ’s shoe size from his caretaker, Lisa Simpson, and went to a sports store a few doors down to purchase CJ a new pair of sneakers. When Cote walked back into the gym and pulled CJ over to help put the sneakers on his feet, Simpson had a big reaction.

“It took me a moment to realize what was happening,” Simpson tells Yahoo Lifestyle before she decided to capture it in a video. “I was crying and after Dan was finished putting on CJ’s sneakers, he looked up and realized how touched I was. He came over and gave me a hug and told me that it was ok, that he really wanted to do it.”

According to Cote, the cost of the sneakers wasn’t even a thought in his mind. But instead, he was focused on the impact that the shoes would make on CJ’s day — and ultimately his motivation to live a healthier life.

“Lisa tells me that he wants to live a healthier lifestyle and that is why he is so adamant about making sure he gets to the gym as often as possible,” Cote says. “Watching his face light up and knowing his day was made better impacted me in a positive way. I realized that even the smallest act of kindness can have a lasting impact on someone.”

Simpson assures that the impact has touched more than just CJ, as the three of them have gotten the privilege to spend more time together, learning from one another.

“CJ has always been happy to go to the gym, but this experience has made a boy who is always smiling, smile even wider. While he doesn’t understand the impact it had on my day, he does know that something special happened that day, and his relationship with Dan has grown,” Simpson says. “It has made him feel loved and important and he is now choosing to spend extra time with Dan. Today, we will be enjoying our Taco Tuesday with Dan at Planet Fitness after our workout. Life is good!!!”

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