Grace's Glendale Bus Stop Takes Off on Facebook
How a one-of-a-kind bus stop and rider are winning the hearts of community members.
A Glendale bus stop is unlike any other. It announces holidays with elaborate decorations; it has a special name; and last week it got its own Facebook page. More importantly, it has Grace Mehan as a rider.
Last Monday, the 56 Metro Bus stop at West Lockwood Avenue and Austin Place became an online landmark with the launch the Facebook page Grace's Glendale Bus Stop. Within one week it has gained 200 likes. It's little wonder why.
Grace's Glendale Bus Stop tells the story of Grace Mehan, a Glendale resident with Down Syndrome who graduated from Kirkwood High School last May and now attends a Special School District post-secondary program at Webster University.
When Grace graduated KHS, she set the goal of getting around town on her own.
"After a few short weeks, several rides with us and the ever-patient Metro trainers, Grace was an independent rider," Grace's mom Colleen Mehan says in an introduction to the Facebook page.
Grace's determination in learning how to ride the bus inspired her father to recognize and foster the accomplishment.
He built a bench at the stop next to the heavily trafficked strip of Lockwood, where there's only about three feet of space between the stop and the street.
"I wanted to give some definition to the space, so people would see Grace and recognize there's a person standing there," said her father, Tom Mehan.
On Oct. 1, Tom showed up at the bus stop with a happy birthday sign for Grace. For Halloween, Tom decorated the bus stop with plastic pumpkins. The decorations became increasingly elaborate.
In the past year, Tom has adorned the stop with hearts, garland, turkeys, an Irish flag and more. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have even surprised Grace at the bus stop with Tom's help.
"I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, Dad, thank you. It's so cool,'" Grace said.
Drivers honk and wave and Grace and her guests wave back.
"People have come to acknowledge that Grace is a member of the community. She's a bus rider and a student and they take part in that," Tom said.
For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Tom strung a banner across the bus stop bench after a conversation with his daughter that read, "I too have a dream."
"It was a testimony to her eduction and striving to become a normal citizen and member of the community by taking the bus," Tom said.
In addition to riding to Webster University, Grace takes the bus to Mike Duffy's where she works as a hostess once a week. As a regular rider she knows the bus drivers by name and has met friends on her routes.
"The support has been nothing but just fun and recognition of her determination to become typical member of community," Tom said.
Grace rides the bus. She's just another adult getting from Point A to Point B, going about her business. In other words, there couldn't be more reason to celebrate.
Congratulations to Grace and thank you to our readers; your support of this story will put Grace on the Huffington Post's "Greatest Person of the Day" page today.