When Michael Garcia, 45, a waiter at Laurenzo's Prime Rib in Houston, Texas, refused to serve customers who didn't want to sit near Milo Castillo, a 5-year-old boy with Down syndrome, he became an almost-instant celebrity.
People across the country praised Garcia, showering him with thank you notes, gifts and donations. Instead of pocketing the money as reward for a good job done, Garcia presented a cheque for $1,145 to Milo's preschool, The Rise School of Houston.
The money will go toward a scholarship for the students, Fox News reported.
"The children though are the real heroes," Garcia said. "I don't feel like a hero in any way, it’s the children."
Children at the school thanked Garcia with homemade gifts at a thank-you party held in his honour.
One young student described Garcia: "Well, he's kind of like God, but he's not God. And he's kind of like Martin Luther King, but he's not Martin Luther King."
"What he's doing is not only inspirational, but it's going to hopefully push people to make donations to this amazing, amazing school," Kim Castillo, Milo's mother, told the Houston Chronicle.
The Rise School of Houston is Houston's only school dedicated to the early education of infants, toddlers and preschool children born with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities in an integrated environment, the newspaper reported.
"When you have something like this with someone who had no reason to be kind — he doesn't have relatives with special needs, he's not a teacher — but he did it out of a sense of what was right and from his heart, it gives us this hope," said Ashley Kress, development director for the school and a mother of a child with Down Syndrome. "Like, okay, if Michael can do that then maybe other people in the world can do that, too."