Houston waiter stands up for 5-year-old boy with Down syndrome


by Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 NEWS


Posted on February 7, 2013 at 10:24 AM

HOUSTON, Texas -- A Houston, Texas local waiter who got a lot of attention for standing up for a boy with special needs is parlaying that spotlight into something good for handicapped children.

Laurenzo's Restaurant on Washington Avenue is popular, and now, so is one of its waiters.

It all started three weeks ago after a customer's snarky comment about a 5-year-old with Down syndrome. Milo and his parents were sitting in a booth. Another family in the next booth moved to the back of the restaurant.

“It was the father who made the comment, ‘special needs children need to be special somewhere else.’ I told him ‘Sir, I won't be able to serve you,’” waiter Michael Garcia said.

Milo’s mother, Kim Castillo, said she was surprised.

“He didn't owe us anything,” Castillo said.

Another server told Castillo what happened, so she posted it on Facebook.

“Next thing you know there was 30,000 views,” she said. “Everyone once in a while it’s important to stand up for someone else.”

Garcia could have lost his job.

Legendary former Astros player Craig Biggio eats at Laurenzo's and heard about the story.

“Certain things at times that are bigger than that,” Biggio said on Wednesday at the restaurant. “I think this is one of those things.”

Fans are applauding Michael’s actions in unique ways.

Garcia says fans from all over the world, including Germany, Australia and Croatia, are calling.

“People come in to take a picture with me,” Garcia said. “I'm thinking I didn't do anything we shouldn’t already be doing.”

Garcia has also gotten hundreds of cards, letters, drawings and gifts for him and Milo. On Wednesday, a box with Star Wars T-shirts and toys came in with a handwritten note from Lucas Films.

One group brought in clown balloons crafted to look like super heroes to honor the ‘everyday hero.‘

As folk send in money, gift cards and continue leaving big tips, Garcia said it’s all going to the children. On Thursday, he will present a check for $1,000 to Milo's school: the Rise School for Children with Down’s Syndrome.

“I couldn't keep one penny of it,” Garcia said. “It wouldn't be right. I’ve really taken a look at myself and it’s really changed me.”

Doing the right thing, even in little ways, can become a big thing.