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Child with special needs forms friendship with sanitation worker

<i>WVTM</i><br/>No one is more excited to see the garbage truck driving down their street than Emma Grace Johnson
WVTM
WVTM
No one is more excited to see the garbage truck driving down their street than Emma Grace Johnson

By WVTM 13 Digital

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    VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama (WVTM) — No one is more excited to see the garbage truck driving down their street than Emma Grace Johnson, a 5-year-old with special needs who lives in Vestavia Hills, Alabama. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Emma Grace waits anxiously for her best friend in the garbage truck, Elbert Berry, to pull up to her house. Little Emma’s fascination with big trucks quickly transformed into a special friendship with the person inside. Only on WVTM 13, anchor Sheri Falk tells you more about the heartwarming bond between Emma and Elbert in the video above.

“He is the kind of person we should all try to be more like,” the child’s mother, Laura Johnson, said about Berry.

Emma Grace was born a “micro-preemie” in Hungary and spent four months in the NICU before being moved to an orphanage, where she would live until she was adopted by the Johnsons at the age of 3.

The pandemic was tough on everyone but especially for the Johnson family. Emma Grace’s grandfather and best friend had heart surgery in March and the two spent months together in isolation to stay safe from the virus. In September of last year, “granddaddy” passed away.

“Emma Grace was devastated,” Laura Johnson said. “Her best friend was gone.”

But then one day Emma finally caught the attention of Berry. And with the wave of her hand, a friendship was born, one that has served as a bright spot for a grieving family.

When school resumed in-person learning, Emma wanted to bring her new friend to school with her. She asked Elbert if she could take a picture with him so she could take the photo with her every day. This summer, Emma Grace did something extra special for her new best friend for his birthday.

“The baby made me a birthday card, a handmade birthday card,” Berry said. “It said, ‘I love you,’ and she stuck the picture inside.”

Touched beyond belief, Berry decided to return the favor by giving Emma Grace a special gift of her own — a photo locket necklace with their picture inside and a message engraved on the back that says, ‘You are the Best Part of my Day!’

“When he gave her the necklace his face just lit up. He was so proud to give it to her and make her smile,” Laura Johnson said. “And it made me think that he was the kind of person who should be celebrated, but probably more important than that, he is the kind of person we should all try to be more like.”

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