How these students are helping to lift the spirits of a grieving man: 'Everyone needs a smile'

How these students are helping to lift the spirits of a grieving man: 'Everyone needs a smile'
Posted at 8:07 PM, Jun 01, 2022

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- When the school day ends, there's one thing these Manchester High School students look forward to just a little more than throwing down their backpacks and kicking off their shoes.

It's a simple wave of goodbye from one friendly face.

"I mean, it's something that makes him happy and makes us happy. And then it makes the entire bus happy," one student said.

On most days and in most weather conditions, you can find Paul Fetter just outside of Manchester High School.

"He changes all of his doctor's appointments, all of his church appointments, everything so that he can be here at three o'clock," Jennifer Langford, a bus driver, said.

Paul has dedicated himself to long walks from his house for 15 minutes of waves after his friend and bus driver Jennifer saw Paul needed a pick-me-up.

"Paul's brother passed away around November of last year and Paul has had time to deal with grief and process," Jennifer said.

Paul also lost a sister earlier in the year.

"He was getting really down and depressed and didn't really want to leave his house, so one day I decided, why don't you walk down to Manchester and I'll drive by, I'll have my kids wave to you," Jennifer said.

With that small request, the students on bus 522 responded in a big way.

"Well, that one thing has turned into every day and the kids are so excited to get to see him and do that kind gesture. Everyone needs a smile," Jennifer said.

It's a wave that has become so powerful that its ripple made its way throughout the entire school.

"We have noticed other buses that pass, kids are waving and Paul is out there waving at them. We've had teachers and parents come out and they're waving."

On top of his daily walk to wave, Paul began to make cork keychains for the kids after they felt compelled to leave their newfound friend with just a little more love.

"Valentine's Day, all the kids wrote Valentine's Day cards for him and I delivered them to Paul," Jennifer said.

"I think that's made him very happy," Kaori Goode said.

What made Paul happy made the students even happier.

"She wrote a card to Paul that just totally impressed me. She said I could not have asked for a better senior year than to wave at Paul going home every day. That's crazy," Jennifer said.

As the school year comes to a close, students learned the important lesson that even something as simple as a simile and wave can make a difference in someone's day.

"Always smile and wave. You don't know what somebody's day, what somebody is going through," Jennifer said.

Paul will be selling his cork keychains this Saturday at 11501 Hull Street Road from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds will benefit cancer patients.