John and Mark X. Cronin, the father-son team that co-founded John’s Crazy Socks, traveled to TD University in Mount Laurel, New Jersey to deliver the keynote presentation at the 2023 TD Bank Disability Summit. They shared the story of how John, a young man with Down syndrome, never let that condition hold him back and how they created a business that thrives because it employs people with differing abilities. Using humor and pathos, the pair offered inspiration, encouragement and practical ideas.
The TD Bank Inclusion Summitt for 2023
John Pluhowski, Chief Communications Officer at TD Bank said, “At TD Bank, our purpose is to enrich lives and build more inclusive tomorrows, not for some, but for everyone.”
That statement set the tone for the Summit called "Beyond," that brought together people from throughout the TD Bank organization both in-person and virtually to celebrate the progress that TD Bank is making in its drive towards true inclusion. The event featured a celebration of the 2023 TD Bank Changemakers and employee-led sessions on efforts the Bank has made to promote inclusion.
Jonathan Goodman, a Senior Product Analyst who spoke at the event, said, “It was an incredible event. It was an honor to take the stage, and to be a part of something so important.”
Mark X. Cronin added, “We admire the commitment that TD Bank has made to inclusion and applaud the hard-earned success they have achieved.” They have more than doubled the percentage of employees self-disclosing a disability which speaks to the positive environment the organization has created. Kudos.
John and Mark X. Cronin Speaking on Inclusion and Making a Difference
Market President, Ralph Bumbaca, introduced John and Mark and spoke of his visit to John’s Crazy Socks where he witnessed a ceremony to present an employee with her first ever paycheck. “It was so moving to see and it captured what John and Mark are doing for people with their business. Landing a job with meaningful work can be life changing.”
Susan Silvestri, a Bank Manager who invited John and Mark to the event, interviewed the pair and asked about their beginning. John explained that he was getting ready to leave high school and could not find meaningful work but that would not stop him. He told his father that he wanted to create a business together and John said, “I told my Dad, we should sell socks.”
From that idea, the pair have built the world’s largest sock store. They’ve created thirty-four jobs, twenty-two of which are held by people with differing abilities. Their Giving Back Program has donated nearly $700,000 to charity partners like the Special Olympics. And their advocacy work has seen them testify twice before the U.S. Congress and speak at the United Nations. EY named them Entrepreneurs of the Year.
“We’re just getting started,” said John.
In keeping with the theme of the Disability Summit, Mark X. Cronin said, “Inclusion works,” said Mark X. Cronin. “Hiring people with differing abilities is not altruism, it is good business and those organizations that hire people with differing abilities gain a competitive advantage.”
When asked for his advice, John said, “Follow your heart, follow your dreams, work hard and show what you can do.”
The audience gave John and Mark a standing ovation and attendees lined up to take pictures with John. One person declared, “This is the best talk we have ever had and I have been coming to events like this for years.”
Custom Socks for TD Bank
John’s Crazy Socks made custom socks for TD Bank to share at the Disability Summit - sharp looking black dress socks with the TD logo. Attendees could not wait to grab a pair. John Pluhowski modeled a pair and he looked great.
The whole audience gathered for a photo shoot where they tossed their socks in the air in celebration.
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 nearly $700,000 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.