Vacuum salesman gives emotional gift to Va. boy with autism

WASHINGTON — A vacuum cleaner may not seem like a typical birthday gift for a teenager, but when a Virginia boy received one on his birthday, it moved all of the guests to tears.

Dylan Johnson, a Chesterfield County boy diagnosed with autism, has had a passion for vacuum cleaners since he was 2 years old, his mom Jodie Greene told Richmond’s WVTR.

Greene decided to ask a vacuum salesman to stop by Johnson’s 14th birthday party over the weekend. WVTR says Greene sent an email to Kirby – Johnson’s favorite vacuum brand – asking for a demonstration:

I am reaching out to you in hopes for an answer to an unusual request for my son who is autistic. He has always been obsessed with vacuum cleaners. His favorite is the Kirby. He spends hours every day watching videos on his tablet about different Kirby’s. When he isn’t watching videos about them, he is talking about them. I really would LOVE to get a demo done for him for his birthday. In fact, I am even getting him a cake made that looks like a Kirby vacuum. I am writing to you in hopes that you can get me in touch with a way to get him this demo. I want to be clear that I do not intend on purchasing a Kirby. I was hoping that I could pay a flat fee or thought that maybe if you have salesmen in training that needs to get in practice demos for training purposes. I do not want anything free, but as the mother of a special needs child, it is so hard to find things to make my son happy. I know that having this demo done would just be so awesome, and it would warm my heart to see him so excited to experience that.

Kirby accepted Greene’s request and sent a salesman, Al Archie, to do a demonstration at the party.

“He knew more about the Kirby than I did,” said Archie, who has been selling Kirby vacuums for 25 years. “I have never experienced anything like that.”

Johnson was surprised by Archie’s presence and demonstration, but stunned when the salesman offered him a gift.

“At the end of the demonstration [he] gave my son a brand new Kirby vacuum,” Greene said to WVTR. “There was not a dry eye in the house.”

Archie said he wanted to celebrate Johnson’s passion for vacuum cleaners.

And Greene said her son is delighted with his new vacuum.

“I’m going to have the cleanest carpets in Chesterfield County,” she joked.

Watch the report:

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Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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