Bubby's Story: Advance, MO man inspires everyone he meets - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Bubby's Story: Advance, MO man inspires everyone he meets

Bubby Ritter is kind of like the town cheerleader in Advance, Mo. (Source: KFVS) Bubby Ritter is kind of like the town cheerleader in Advance, Mo. (Source: KFVS)

In Advance, Missouri you'll be hard pressed to find anyone in town who doesn't know Stephen Ritter. 

No one calls him Stephen though...he's "Bubby." It’s a name that stuck years ago.

"My brother done that,” said Bubby.

The name seems to suit him. Bubby is kind of like the town cheerleader.

He is fun to watch as he makes the rounds at the Advance Assisted Living center.

He makes everyone smile, and laughter usually isn't too far behind either.

He comes to the center often along with his Aunt Sandy when she reads to the residents.

"Oh I love him, he's the apple of my eye," said one resident.

Bubby is 54 years old.

Doctors once told his parents, he wouldn't live past the age of five. 

He was always so tiny, and his vision...very poor.

"We went 9 years without knowing,” said Carol Ritter-Bubby’s mom.

Eventually, there was a diagnosis, Hallerman-Streiff syndrome.

"At that time, there were only 58 known cases in the world," said Carol Ritter.

It is still very rare today.

Bubby is legally blind and has many limitations. You would think that would stop him or keep him from enjoying life, but it's just the opposite.

"He's just been a blessing to people, he never meets a stranger," said Carol Ritter. "If more of us were like him, it'd be a better world."

Bubby always knows what's going on. He has a weather radio and police scanner in his bedroom to keep him in the loop.

He’s also an avid news watcher, so he's aware of the heartache and sadness that exists today.

“The world's in a bad place," said Bubby,        

One of his gifts is compassion. He makes a point to pray for others and let them know he cares. His faith is very important. One way he shares that is through song.

There was hardly a dry eye as he sang from the heart at a recent benefit concert for a dear friend.

"He's touched so many lives," said Carol Ritter.

"We've never shoved him in a corner,” said Carl Ritter-Bubby’s dad. “We have always taken him out and are proud of him."       

Bubby really enjoys going out, especially if it involves food.

"Eating everything I can eat, don't that sound about right," said Bubby. "We go down to Puxico Homecoming, got big ole corn dogs down there."

Another favorite spot is El Mexicano in Advance. Bubby's parents warned us, their son is a bit of a superstar there. His picture is even on the wall.

When he’s not joking around with the owner, then Bubby is making the rounds, chatting with the locals.

No doubt, Bubby has a gift.

"I think he's here to bring joy to the hearts of other people and to bring laughter because he'll make you laugh,” said Carol Ritter.

She’s not kidding, and not just any laugh.

It’s the kind that makes you feel like you've been doing sit ups, the kind that can turn a bad day into a good day.

"God put him here for a purpose," said Carl Ritter.

Bubby prefers to keep it simple. Give him his country music on the front porch with his dad, a glass of tea, and some Cardinals baseball and he's a happy guy.

We asked him why people like being around him.

"Good looking I guess,” said Bubby with a big grin and a chuckle.

He's just one man in one small town in southeast Missouri doing his part...just being himself.           

"He's just happy with life,” said Carol Ritter.

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