Remember when I mentioned earlier that the worst time of the day for Jon was lunch and PE in Jr. High. Well that all changed when he got to high school and the person who made that possible was Mrs. Bernadette Terrell. Affectionately called, Bernie by Jon. She was that safe place that he could go to every day and talk about his life when she was fixing him a sandwich. You see Bernie worked in the sandwich/deli line in the Normal Community Cafeteria.

He would stop and chat about just about anything and she made time for him and made it feel like being at home and having a conversation with Mom. She never cut him off even when the line was growing longer behind him. She was among the guests invited to his high school graduation party and when she couldn’t come she sent a generous check to him in the mail. Seriously who does that! Bernie Terrell does.

I think it is very important to understand that when you grow up with autism as Jon did that there were very few people that truly understood and readily accepted him the way Bernie did. Never underestimate that person in a school that can make or break a year for a special needs student.

When I transferred from Kingsley Junior High and moved to NCHS after Jon graduated, I was really nervous. Jon told me, “Mom you just have to go to cafeteria and meet Bernie and tell her you’re my Mom!” So I did and he was right, she makes everything better in the middle of the day especially at lunch.

So tonight for your gift of motherly love we present Bernadette “Bernie” Terrell with a HERO Award!

Jon was one of my favorite students in the NCHS cafeteria. He always had a great big smile and even though he sometimes wouldn’t eat in the deli line he would always stop by to see me. We would talk about his band and his career choices and just anything that was new or going on that day. He was a part of my life that I will always treasure. I wish that in this world everyone could have have known or have a friend in this world like Jon.