INDEPENDENCE, Missouri (KCTV) — It’s not easy being different as a teenager.
That’s why a customer at an Independence Pizza Ranch felt compelled to hand $2,500 to a cashier after seeing how the 16-year-old carried himself.
Ryheem Lumpkins, who attends William Chrisman High School, has been manning the register for about a month. When no one is in line to pay, he’s busy sweeping floors and wiping down the buffet. He’s usually quiet and introverted, but the job has shown him another side to his personality.
“I see new people, I get excited when I see them. I never knew I could get excited when I see people,” Lumpkins said.
Robert Samay was one of those new people a month ago. He was so impressed by Lumpkins’ attitude that he gave him a $5 tip. He remembered the happy look on the teen’s face. On Tuesday, he returned with a surprise he hoped would make Lumpkins’ day and then some.
“I appreciate your hard work, your good smile, your good attitude. We don’t get that nowadays, especially with young kids,” Samay said to Lumpkins.
Samay’s friend pulled out a stack of $50 bills and began counting them. As the number grew, Lumpkins wiped tears from his eyes.
“To be honest, I was speechless,” Lumpkins said. “I never had nothing in my life that had happened to me like that before.”
It wasn’t just the money. It was the gesture.
“That right there showed me that there’s more people in the world that really cares for me,” Lumpkins said.
It wasn’t until he picked up the cash, that it became clear Lumpkins’ hands and arms were different from most. They never fully developed.
“I don’t describe it as a condition. God made me like this for a reason. I’m a regular person. I don’t think of it as a disability,” Lumpkins said. “It don’t prevent me from nothing. If I feel like I can do it, I can do it.”
Lumpkins hopes to someday be a motivational speaker for kids like him. His message?
“Don’t ever hide it,” he said. “Embrace what you have different from other people. Because a lot of people think it’s cool and a lot of people wouldn’t think it’s cool. The negative words, don’t let it get to your head. Because there’s a lot of positive in the world. There’s more positive than negative.”
“Money comes and goes,” Samay remarked. “It’s rare to find someone like Ryheem.”
Lumpkins said he will be putting the money in his savings account. He’s been saving to get his first car, starting with a cleaning job last year, then this cashier job. The $2,500 will get him there sooner.
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