Too often, doctors and medical professionals struggle to communicate effectively with patients who have a disability and their families. This can translate into people with disabilities not receiving the care they need. The University of Houston College of Optometry is working to change this situation and they invited John and Mark X. Cronin, co-founders of John’s Crazy Socks, to address a class so they could better understand the needs and experiences of patients and their families.
Muriel L. Martinez O.D., FAAO, Assistant Clinical Professor and Director, Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Service, said, “It is a wonderful opportunity to hear from John and Mark about their experiences in the health care system so our students can better understand how they can meet the needs of all their patients. John and Mark are such compelling speakers.”
John said, “I think it is important that medical professionals hear from people like me and my family so they can better treat their patients.”
A Presentation for Optometry Students
Mark opened the presentation by sharing the experience that he and his wife had when John was born. Instead of doctors congratulating them on the birth of their son, they found out that John had Down syndrome when a doctor told them, “I am so sorry. I have bad news. It appears that your son may have a slight case of Down syndrome.” Mark has written about this experience in an essay published in the HuffPost.
The father-son team shared many of John’s experiences with the health care system as he has needed treatment for a serious eye condition – Keratoconus – and hearing loss. In December 2020, John contracted the COVID virus and his breathing deteriorated to the point that he needed hospitalization. John and Mark shared how their local hospital, Huntington Hospital, allowed Mark to stay with John and how that benefited John and the medical professionals and led to better treatment.
John and Mark also spoke about John’s journey as an entrepreneur and the development of John’s Crazy Socks. Professor Martinez wanted the students to hear about the economic challenges facing people with disabilities as well as their strengths and achievements.
This is the fourth year that John and Mark have addressed the students at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Professor Martinez said that she and the students look forward to this talk.
Mark X. Cronin added, “We look forward to speaking with these students. The work they will do in the future will make a difference in people’s lives and the more they understand their patients, the better than can serve them.”
Speaking at Colleges and Universities
John and Mark are frequent speakers at colleges and universities, appearing in person in the U.S. and Canada and speaking virtually around the world. In addition to speaking with students training for a career in healthcare, they often speak with business and entrepreneurial students as well as students in the fields of education and special education. At several universities, they speak on an annual basis as the instructors want them to return to address a new group of students.
Among the colleges and universities where they have spoken are Rutgers, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Ripon College, Holy Cross, Middle Tennessee State, Hofstra, the University of Loyola-Chicago, and Adelphi University. Outside the U.S., they have spoken at Carleton College and Simon Fraser University in Canada, Trinity College in Ireland, the University of Paris, and schools in Belgium, Portugal, and Spain.
Keynote and Event Speakers
John and Mark X. Cronin are frequent speakers at conferences and corporate events. They share their entrepreneurial story of how a young man with Down syndrome together with his father created what is today the world’s largest sock store with a mission to spread happiness. Their speaking engagements bring laughter, tears and inspire people to see what is possible for each of us to achieve. They have spoken in person at events across Canada, the United States and Mexico and at virtual events around the world. They have spoken at events for Microsoft, EY, Bank of America, the Special Olympics, and the National Down Syndrome Society, among others.
Their advocacy work has seen the Cronins testify twice before Congress and speak at the United Nations on two occasions. Their work has been featured on many national news shows. They are winners of many awards including the EY Entrepreneurs of the Year. They serve on the CEO Commission for Disability Employment and the Neurodiversity at Work Business Roundtable.
John and Mark recorded their second TEDx Talk entitled, “Hiring People with People with Differing Abilities is Not Altruism, It Is Good Business.” That talk is available on YouTube and the TED platform. Their first TEDx Talk entitled Differently Abled People Want to Help Us is also available on YouTube and the TED platform.
About John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks was inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks—what he calls his “crazy socks.” He and his father, Mark X. Cronin, started the company as a social enterprise with a mission of Spreading Happiness™. With more than 4,000 socks, John’s Crazy Socks is now the world’s largest sock store. More than half their employees have a differing ability, and their Giving Back program has raised over $625,000 for charity partners like the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the Autism Society of America. Most of all, they are Spreading Happiness™.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account, TikTok or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at email@example.com.