In the small Illinois town of Alpha, the students at Alwood Elementary don’t begin their day until crossing guard Stanley Whitsell does.
Stanley, a 79-year-old military veteran, walks Alwood students across the street every school day. It begins at 7:30 a.m.
Stanley has a hard time walking himself. As he limps across the street, students often leave him behind. But not before they say goodbye.
It’s a job he took back in 1999. Fifteen years later, it’s become his life.
“I love these kids,” Stanley says with a smile on his face.
He helps the same children safely cross the street every day, and he greets each of them by name.
“I know all of their names. It took me a few tries to remember them but I got it,” Stanley said.
It’s easy to see how much the students appreciate him. Not only do they return his affection with smiles, but they showed their care and concern when he was hospitalized and unable to work a few years ago.
“A bunch of kids came in to visit me and boy, that made me cry. They started singing Christmas carols to me,” said Stanley.
As much as Stanley loves what he does, he knows it won’t last forever.
“I’m slowing down a lot,” Stanley said.
He may slow down, but he has no plans to stop. Stanley plans to be the crossing guard at Alwood Elementary for as long as his health will allow.