Jordan Taylor’s small kindness to an autistic teen, captured on a video that went viral, continues to pay dividends for the 20-year-old Baton Rouge man.
On Monday morning, Taylor and his mother, Theresa Taylor, were special guests at the back-to-school employee convocation for the Central school district. It was no accident. The person who took the video on July 29 of at the Rouses Market on Drusilla Lane was Sid Edwards, the head football coach at Central High School. And his son, Jack Ryan, 17, whom Jordan Taylor allowed to help him stock groceries for 30 minutes, is a student at the suburban East Baton Rouge high school.
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Superintendent Jason Fountain, however, did not let Taylor just sit and watch from his seat in the pews at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church. Fountain called him on stage to accept the Culture Coin, a special award that’s usually reserved for school employees and goes to those who make “a positive contribution to the culture” of the school district.
“I can’t think of any other example that illustrates better the kind of character we want to see here,” Fountain said.
The good fortune didn’t stop there.
A representative of Baton Rouge Community College promised to serve as Taylor's “personal assistant” to help him apply and register for classes later this month. Neighbors Federal Credit Union has committed to helping him get a car so he can more easily get to work and school.
And finally, Taylor walked away with a painting by the featured speaker, San Francisco-based graffiti artist Erik Wahl. Wahl, who is known for speed painting, dashed off a purple-and-gold LSU Tiger in the shape of the state of Louisiana and gave it to a surprised Taylor.
Walking in Monday, Taylor had already had more than $115,000 raised on his behalf via a GoFundMe campaign called "Send Jordan from Rouses to School,” which was launched by Jack Ryan’s sister, Delaney Alwosaibi.
A crowdfunding campaign for the Baton Rouge Rouses employee whose act of kindness to an autistic teen went viral has raised more than $100,000.
Speaking after the convocation, Taylor and his mother were clearly dazed by the chain of events.
“Everything is just crazy,” he said with amazement. “They’re trying to get me a car, get me to college.”
“I didn’t think it was going to be all this,” said his mother, who also works at Rouses and has four other children.
Jordan Taylor is a graduate of Mentorship Academy, a charter school in downtown Baton Rouge. His mother went to Central Middle years ago. He promised, though, he’d come to Wildcat football and basketball games in the near future.
Several Central employees also encouraged him to visit again if he achieves his goal of becoming a math teacher.
“Math is something that always clicked for me and I really liked helping other people learn it,” he explained.
Fountain said bringing Taylor to Monday’s event was a natural response to his good deed.
“It was a serendipitous moment …,” Fountain said. “It was there and we couldn’t pass on it.”