Cary mom praises disabled daughter's bus driver as he prepares to retire

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Mom praises disabled daughter's bus driver

ABC11 Together is celebrating the kindness of a Wake County bus driver for disabled children.

Cary mom Amanda Boda reached out to ABC11 via Facebook when she found out her daughter's bus driver, Mr. Joe, is retiring.

When Boda welcomed her first child into the world everything seemed great until about 9 months in when her daughter Linnea suffered from seizures that came one after another. Boda would later come to find out Linnea suffered a stroke in the womb.

"The doctor decided to cut her brain in half," Boda said. "It's called a hemispherectomy. Basically, they kill the side of the brain that's causing the electrical impulses that causes seizures."

Some children might go on to have a typical life after.

"Linnea unfortunately didn't turn out that way," her mother said. "She can't walk. She can't talk. She feeds from a [gastronomy] tube."

Boda connects Linnea to her feeding tube as the 9-year-old rocks out to the beat of pop music - her favorite. Amanda has to place her faith on everyone her daughter depends on - like her bus driver, Mr. Joe, who plays tunes on the bus just to see her smile.
The girl spends over five hours a week on the bus, and it's why her mother is so grateful for the caring bus driver.

"The joy of the smiles they have on their faces when they see the bus pulling up, it's just heartwarming," Joseph "Mr. Joe" Griffin said.

"A lot of them are nonverbal, but you speak to them and if they don't recognize your voice they recognize you and smile. It's the smiles that they give you," he said.

It's those smiles that motivate him to get up at 2 a.m. for work.

He lets parents know what kind of moods their kids are in, and sends them text updates at stops if some drop offs take extra time. It's why Amanda was in tears when she found out he's retiring at the end of the week.
"He has a bond with all of them on the bus," Boda said. "They're like his own. He calls her Nae Nae in the morning when I bring her out "Nae Nae! Nae Nae's here!" I mean your heart just grows 10 times bigger."

"It was a joy, a real joy," Griffin said.

"We love you Mr. Joe," Boda said.
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