"It was a day I’ll never forget."
Few things feel as great as receiving a birthday surprise from your loved ones. But imagine being showered with affection and gifts by an entire community, not just your family and friends. This is what Luther Walker, a 94-year-old crossing guard at Mitchell Elementary School in Dallas, experienced for his birthday.
"He is an institution," Principal Bob Farris told ABC News. "He’s a bright light in everybody’s day."
Walker served in World War II, worked in a bakery, and was employed by the YMCA. But he said his job as a crossing guard has been the most fulfilling.
"The kids are wonderful," Walker said. "Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve never had [any] problem with the kids. I got attached to the children and they got attached to me. I enjoy working with them."
Yet days before he was set to celebrate his incredible milestone, Walker faced a health scare that caused him to miss one day of work during the week of Monday, September 11. Having been a crossing guard at the school for nearly 20 years, naturally, his absence was of grave concern for both parents and students alike.
"The whole community was so concerned about him," Farris said.
Parents had grown accustomed to Walker escorting their children to safety on their way to school, and doing it with a smile on his face each day.
"People were really, genuinely upset," said Kelli Jones, the parent of a 4th grader at the school. "The kids kept asking questions about where he was and were very upset."
According to Walker, he got dehydrated while driving around town and became disoriented.
"I was just turned around," said Walker. "I don’t know what happened. It seemed like a dream to me."
Once Walker recovered and returned to his duties, he was greeted with gift cards and artwork from the students for his birthday. Some of the students' families even chipped in to pay his rent for the month.
"It was wonderful," said an emotionally-overwhelmed Walker. "It was really so nice. I’ve enjoyed this birthday better than any birthday I’ve ever had. It was a day I’ll never forget."
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Despite his age, Walker still feels young at heart and has no plans to retire, at least not anytime soon.
"I might have to give it up, but so far, I feel alright," he said. "I’ll wait to see what happens in another year or so."