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When one mom learned about her daughter’s conversations with an old man around the corner, she was alarmed, but she discovered something beautiful.

It’s up to young people to change the future. One man recognized this and took it into his own hands.

Gina Arnold drove her daughter Audrey to Marina Village Middle School in El Dorado Hills, California, like she did every morning. But as she pulled up to the school, Audrey asked her to drop her off elsewhere.

Why a Young Girl Asked Her Mom to Drop Her off Away From School

a building at the corner of a road
Photo by Storiès on Unsplash

Audrey wanted to be dropped off at a corner Gina had already driven past, and when Gina asked her why, she was alarmed by her daughter’s response. 

According to Audrey, there was a cute old man who hung out at the corner every morning. He was known for talking to the students before school and sharing advice. 

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Gina was immediately worried. She had taught her daughter not to talk to strangers, yet Audrey was talking to this older man outside of the school. Gina drove around the block and back to the corner Audrey was talking about to see the old man for herself.

Why an Elderly Man Had Been Sitting at the Corner for 14 Years

Finally Gina saw him: 94-year-old Wally Richardson, a veteran and a resident of El Dorado Hills. He had been sharing advice — known as Wally-isms — to the young students since 2008.

“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much… unless you do what’s right,” was just one of Wally’s many lessons.

Wally was also known as Mr. Knuckles because he always gave fist bumps to the students before they went to class. The students loved him.

“Be kind whenever possible,” Wally always said.

Wally had not always come alone: He and his wife would eat their breakfast in the morning and then walk to the corner to meet the students. However, his wife had suffered from health problems and he had been coming on his own ever since.

How an Elderly Veteran Is Teaching Young Children to Be Compassionate

children wearing hats and backpacks and walking
Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

Wally’s motivation for coming to the corner was simple: He wanted to see more kindness in the world, and he knew that the best way to initiate change was with young people. 

“I want them to retain something that they can take on in life later on,” Wally said.

After meeting Wally, Gina doesn’t mind dropping Audrey off at the corner.

“As a parent, knowing that what I’m trying to instill in my kids is actually being promoted as I drop them off… is one of the best feelings I could ever have,” Gina told Inside Edition.

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Gina is not the only adult who appreciates Wally’s commitment and generosity. The staff at Marina Village Middle School agree with Wally’s intentions. 

“It takes one significant adult in a kid’s life and you can impact them forever, and Wally is that person with kids,” Cheryl Olson, the school superintendent, said.

Wally recognizes the importance of spreading kindness, which is why he has taken it upon himself to teach the next generation to be generous and compassionate people.

By being kind himself and sharing advice, Wally is leading by example. One thing’s for sure: Marina Village Middle School and the world are better because of Mr. Knuckles and his Wally-isms.

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