— -- A New York family is showing their son's long-time bus driver gratitude for the positive impact he made on the teen.
Scott Reynolds retired in February after 35 years of driving buses for Fairport Central School District.
The family of Ty Coppola, 19, who has Down syndrome, wrote the driver a 'thank you' letter for looking after their son to and from school for so many years.
"We just wanted him to understand that he made a difference," Ty's dad, Michael Coppola, told ABC News. "I didn't have the time to tell Scott. I struggled to find the words. How do you tell him, 'You might think you're just driving these kids to school, but parents place a lot trust and maybe even more so when you have a child with a disability.'"
The letter read, in part:
Not just a bus driver. Those are the words that come to mind when I think of Scott.
How can we explain that Scott has been so much more than “just a bus driver” to Ty? If I could ONLY show you a picture of how Ty’s face “lights up” when we open the garage and he sees Scott open the doors of the bus every morning. How he has a little extra “spring” in his step when Scott says “good morning Ty” or “what got into you today”? How he changes from not really wanting to go to school, to smiling as Scott gives him the usual “fist bump” as Ty boards the bus.
Ty has known Scott for many years. I think Scott can “read him” as well as we can at times. He cheers him up, gets his day started positively every day, and ends it with a smile. He is like another dad, or at least a big brother to Ty. Ty has a great sense for people he can trust. Scott earned that with Ty from Day 1, and that trust continues to this day. We are very sad because Ty really doesn’t understand that he will not see Scott again – at least not every day...
Reynolds drove Ty to and from the School of the Holy Childhood in Rochester, New York for almost 10 years.
The pair developed a special relationship, Coppola said.
"There weren't a whole lot of words exchanged between Ty and Scott," Coppola added. "Ty wears hearing aids. That's certainly the reason for his delayed, or limited speech. It was more of a sense of comfort because Scott always greeted him with a smile. Scott had no apprehension or fear of Ty. I use that term because I was like that myself until I had a son with disabilities.
"They understand a lot and most of what we're saying, so we need to treat them like we treat everybody else and Scott understands that."
Fairport’s Transportation Director Peter Lawrence said Reynolds was a “very dependable” bus driver and “he did a great job” in his role, according to a school district statement released to ABC News.
The Coppola family's handwritten letter was given to Reynolds during a surprise retirement party that was recently held for him.
Coppola said while he was worried about Reynolds leaving, the district has since hired a new driver who has put his mind at ease.
"[Ty] is handling the transition well," he said. "We have a very nice woman who I am sure will do a fantastic job. When I take him out to get on the bus, I still see a smile. When I show him the stories that have been published and he sees the pictures of him and Scott -- he's not going to say 'I miss Scott,' but I just have this sense from his smile that Scott's a person he'll remember and he certainly meant a lot to him."
Scott Reynolds will be honored at a brunch on May 9 as 2016's Pupil Transportation Employee of the Year, from the Rochester Area Transportation Supervisors Association.