East Prairie Sonic restaurant celebrates 1-year anniversary for worker with Down syndrome

Sonic honors worker with down syndrome

EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KFVS) - 30-year old Navis Johnson said it was his dream to work at Sonic in East Prairie. Now, his company is helping him celebrate his one-year anniversary.

East Prairie's Sonic General Manager Tommy Quaite saw potential in Johnson in January of 2018. Quaite hired Johnson as the chief onion ring maker and has been at that position making tasty onion rings for the community ever since.

"He makes terrific onion rings," Quaite stated. "He's really good at it. He is always looking to help somebody. When he finishes up with his onion rings, he is always looking to helping somebody with their tasks."

Johnson's sister Marlina Jones said it's great to see the community support for Johnson.

She said growing up with her brother having Down syndrome, she was always a little bit more protective over him and just wanted the best for him throughout his life.

"I feel like I have those concerns just naturally," Jones explained. "But growing up he has more friends than I do. People know me because I'm his sister. So I didn't need to worry any about that."

It was about 8 years ago that Quaite met with Johnson in a church youth group setting. Quaite said that he stood up and stated that it was his dream to get a job so he could take care of his mother.

"That always stuck with me," Quaite stated. "He is an inspiration to everybody. He sings in the choir at church. He is so faithful that he always is helping with youth and anything going on."

From that point, Quaite knew Johnson was a determined individual that wanted to help fulfill his dream the first chance he was able to.

"He's putting in the work just as hard as anybody else," Quaite said. "He's got every reason to say, 'I just want to go sit and watch TV.' He's just got that spirit about him that he is thrilled and excited to be at work. I think every place of employment needs somebody bringing that attitude in."

For Jones, she said it means the world to her seeing so much support for her brother.

"We are blessed to live in a community that is filled with people that see ability no matter how differently it looks," Jones said. "This is just a small representation of how great our community is, so that is what I love about this store."

To help celebrate with the community, Sonic gave away orders of onion rings to customers for two hours from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

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