This seventh grader was at home recovering from a vicious school bus assault when the doorbell rang. He and his mom opened the front door to see a bunch of firefighters who had responded to the incident that day. And they had something truly awesome to give him.
Jonathan Moran is a 14-year-old who lives in Linden, New Jersey. And it would be fair to day that he hasn’t always had the easiest time, especially at school. In fact, his story is a heartbreaking one. But there’s an amazing reason why it has gone viral.
The story begins in 2015 when Moran had just moved to a brand new school. But he’d only been there for about a week when something very unpleasant happened to him. The whole incident took place when he boarded the school bus to go home.
Sadly, Moran was no stranger to bullying. In fact, his mother told CBS News in October 2015 that her son had been the victim of bullies even before moving to the new school. He had autism, but was described as a “high functioning autistic child.”
Unfortunately for the seventh grader, however, the bullying didn’t subside once he started his new school. Although Lincoln School was a special education school, Moran experienced unpleasantness on the bus ride into school one day. And it got even worse on the ride home.
“They started making fun of my sneakers and calling me fat, plus he called me stupid,” Moran told CBS News after the incident. At that point, it was only cruel name-calling. Unfortunately, though, the bullies then began to step it up a notch.
Soon after, things went from verbal to physical. Referring to one boy in particular, Moran recalled how, “He started punching me. He broke my glasses, split my lip, and he gave me bruises around my face.” Was anyone going to step in and help this poor boy?
Bloodied and bruised, Moran had been badly beaten up. Thankfully, though, someone had called the emergency services, and soon enough some firefighters from the Linden Fire Department turned up at the scene to help poor Moran. They were horrified to learn about the vicious assault.
Upon arrival, the firefighters treated the seventh grader’s wounds, but they weren’t comfortable letting Moran get back on the school bus. Instead, they made a new plan that would keep him safe from harm. So they gave him a ride back home to his mom.
But even after they had dropped him safely at his house, the firefighters couldn’t get Moran off their minds. “We came back from the call, and it just struck a chord in my heart, and I was telling the guys what happened,” one of the men, EMT Brian Paster, told CBS News.
So they got talking among themselves and made a plan. They wanted to do something nice for the 12 year old who had had a pretty terrible day, through no fault of his own. Then, one weekend following the bullying incident, Moran got a knock on the front door.
When he went to see who it was, he found the bunch of firefighters that had helped him out that fateful day. And they weren’t just visiting. They had a gift for the seventh grader. In fact, they had clubbed together to buy him some new sneakers.
Having been targeted specifically because of his old sneakers, this awesome gift from the EMTs made Moran’s day. “I love them a lot,” he said after receiving his brand new pair of shoes. After all, they were pretty special: Nikes with gold, black, red and blue detailing.
But there was even more to come. Aside from the sneakers, the Linden Fire Department gave Moran an American flag and a cool T-shirt that read, “Your Mother’s Favorite Fireman.” And a touching video showing the first responders presenting the items to the seventh grader has since gone viral.
One of the firemen involved, Danny Diaz, told CBS News that the act of goodwill from his team was able to make a negative thing turn into something positive for Moran. He added that the boy seemed “so happy” and a “little bit more outgoing.”
His mom also told CBS that she hopes this act of kindness might “change the direction” of her son’s life. That’s because he has been known to act up when someone says something cruel to him. And unfortunately, this reaction has landed him in trouble before.
But in this most recent bullying incident on the school bus, Moran was able to keep his cool and he didn’t react aggressively. “He did not retaliate, he did not say or do a thing and I could not be prouder!” his mom said on Facebook following the assault.
His mom’s viral Facebook post also explains a bit more about her son’s autism and the kind of behavior it provokes. “He struggles with self control and in the past would have not been able to maintain control in a situation of this type,” she wrote.
But this time, not only did Moran keep his emotions in check, but he also showed an incredible amount of maturity following the assault. According to CBS News he has even invited the bullies round to dinner in the hope to become friends, despite getting off on the wrong foot.
His mom was so delighted with the firemen’s response that she thanked them publicly in a viral Facebook post. “Thank You Brian Paster, Hilda N. Jose Espinal and the entire Linden Fire Department for your generosity, and community service! You are truly heroes in my book!” she wrote.