Nathan Joerndt found out he’s not alone the best way: an overflowing of community support.
Since we first shared his story Monday, it’s been spread online, rallying people from all over the country and the world in support of him and other Walmart greeters.
“It’s shocking!” he exclaimed with a laugh. “I honestly didn’t know that I would have a huge fan club around the globe.”
Nathan has appeared on national television, NPR, and says he’s even been contacted by people in Australia and Scotland – all hearing about how his job as a greeter with a disability could be in jeopardy.
“He doesn’t toot his own horn about how he has affected people’s lives,” explained his mom, Vickie Fogarty. “I had a woman come up to me who says, ‘I suffer from depression, and he (Nathan) is the only thing that brightens my day.'”
Nathan’s impact on his community shouldn’t be understated. A Facebook page started in his honor has over 7,000 members.
That’s over half the population of his home town of Pontiac, and it’s growing by the hour.
“The way I see it, Nathan at the local Walmart up here is like Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis,” quipped Nick Knetz, a shopper. “He can just basically turn the world on with a smile and turn a nothing day into something that’s worth it.”
His fight – and the fights of other greeters – haven’t fallen on deaf ears. Walmart released a statement after national feedback, saying in part:
“If any associate in this unique situation wants to continue working at Walmart, we should make every effort to make that happen.”
“I’m going to say most of the people in the country don’t feel this is right,” said Peggy Boldt, family friend and creator of Nathan’s support Facebook page. “They want to see Nathan and people like Nathan keep their jobs. Just because somebody has disabilities doesn’t mean they can’t be a productive member of society.”
As far as Nathan goes, he’s determined to march on.
This, despite only being scheduled for two shifts in the next week.
“You are looking at a person who does not give up, who does not quit, who keeps going, who keeps fighting!” he said. “It’s just awesome that there are a lot of people supporting me. I love it, I love it.
Nathan says he doesn’t want to give up on Walmart – being a greeter brings him and Pontiac joy like nothing else. But his future prospects are bright, with several job offers waiting in the wings to put his skill of growing smiles to good use.
To see Nathan’s live interview from Heart of Illinois ABC at 5, click below.