John and Mark X. Cronin, founders of John’s Crazy Socks, spoke with parents, teachers and school administrators at the Sachem School District Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) spring meeting. They shared their message of hope and encouragement as well as practical information about preparing students with differing abilities for the workforce.
“I love talking with the SEPTA,” said John Cronin, “I have Down syndrome and I want parents and teachers to see what I can do and what their children can do.”
John’s partner and father explained, “Part of our mission at John’s Crazy Socks is to show what’s possible, to show the world what people with differing abilities can do. Yes, we speak with other businesses and policy makers, but it is important to speak with parent groups and students too. I can share my own experiences as a father, the doubts, the worries and the joys. We can show what John has done as an entrepreneur and the work that our colleagues with differing abilities can achieve. We want to encourage families, to let them know that they are not alone and that a brighter future awaits.”
Heather Porciello, who arranged for John and Mark to speak to the SEPTA said, “We were so grateful for their presentation. They were so moving and inspiring. We loved it.”
Speaking to SEPTAs and Parent Teacher Organizations
John and Mark are sought after speakers for national events and have given the keynote at many conferences and corporate events, yet they still make time to speak with SEPTAs and other parent groups. John’s co-founder and father said, “My wife and I remember the apprehension and uncertainty we faced when John was born. We want to reassure parents that there is hope that their children will be able to find opportunities and meaningful work.”
The father-son team opened their talk by sharing the life-threatening medical issues John confronted at birth including his open-heart surgery before he was three months old. Mark also shared how John could not speak as a child and learned sign language to communicate, yet now he is a public speaker.
John said, “I want parents to know what I overcame and that their children can do it too.”
“We share with parents what is possible,” said Mark. “We want to give hope.”
John and Mark told how and why they started John’s Crazy Socks – it was John’s idea – and some of the bumps along the way. Today, John’s Crazy Socks is the world’s largest sock store. The pair describe the social enterprise they built and the five pillars on which they have built it:
- Inspiration and Hope
- Giving back
- Fun Products You Can Love
- Making It Personal
- Making This a Great Place to Work
John’s Crazy Socks has created 34 jobs, and more than half are held by people with differing abilities. They have created a unified workplace and demonstrated why that is good business, a theme they also discuss in a TEDx talk where they show how hiring people with differing abilities is not altruism, it is good business.
As the presentation ended, John and Mark answered questions from the audience, had some one-one-one conversations and posed for photos with the parents.
A school administrator told them, “This is exactly what we needed to hear. Your talk was so helpful.”
A mother hugged John and said, “You are so inspiring. Thank you for your talk and everything you do.”
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 recently 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 $600,000 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.