John bonded with President George H. W. Bush over their mutual love of colorful, fun socks. But they had much more in common. President Bush stood for people with disabilities. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act which changed the lives of millions of Americans. When signing the bill, President Bush said, “With today's signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, every man, woman, and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence, and freedom.”
President Bush made it possible for John and millions of others with differing abilities to lead fulfilling lives. Without President Bush and the American with Disabilities Act, there would be no John’s Crazy Socks.
And what brought John, a young entrepreneur with Down syndrome and the former President together was socks. When John discovered that the former President wore crazy socks, he said, “We should send him some socks.” Soon these two sock lovers were exchanging letters and socks.
On World Down Syndrome Day this year, President Bush wore John’s Down Syndrome Super Hero Socks and tweeted out a picture celebrating people with Down syndrome and all people with differing abilities. President Bush wrote, “Yesterday I was inspired by my friend John Cronin to wear these beauties from @JohnsCrazySocks marking World Down Syndrome Day. A great sock supporting a wonderful cause.”
When Mrs. Bush passed away, President Bush’s office reached out to John for socks to wear to honor his wife’s legacy of promoting literacy. John was so proud to offer some comfort to the President at such a sad time. We continue to celebrate Mrs. Bush’s legacy by making those socks a fundraiser for the Barbara Bush Family Literacy Foundation.
This summer, John sent President Bush a box of patriotic socks and John’s Fourth of July Socks. That was their last communication. John never had the opportunity to meet President Bush, but that did not weaken the connection John felt to his fellow sock lover. It is a testament to President Bush’s humanity that though he was once the most powerful man in the world, a man who dined with kings and queens, he did so much for the weakest in our society with the American with Disabilities Act.
This great man in his waning days, reached out and touched a young man with Down syndrome who embodies Mr. Bush’s faith. The two bonded over socks, spreading happiness and showing what is possible. Mr. Bush has passed on, but he lives in the millions of lives he changed and all he made possible. John carries his flame forward.