BATH TOWNSHIP — The 5-year-old boy had a lot of questions about the woman walking her children back and forth to the bus stop.
“One day, he asked her, ‘Why do you drop off your kids? Don’t you have a car?’” Tracey Howard recalled. “She told him it was a long story, but she didn’t have a car, and she was staying at a motel.”
Braydon DeWitt may have Asperger syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause difficulties in social interactions. His questions and answers alike are short and direct, but that doesn’t mean he is shy.
DeWitt returned to his house, grabbed a shoebox and started finding things to help the family, such as toothbrushes. He wrote letters to the family too, walking up to Howard, saying, “Nana, this is for her.”
His generosity has continued since then.
DeWitt, now 11, is one of the 12 local Jefferson Awards winners, and he’s one of the four youth winners. For the win, each received money to donate to a favorite cause. The Lima News will profile each of them between now and the streaming awards show the night of Thursday, April 22.
“Since he’s been old enough to walk, he’s done things like this,” Howard said. “He was raised with a giving heart.”
DeWitt won a Jefferson Award for his efforts passing out food boxes, hats, gloves, homemade Christmas cards for senior citizens and wrapped presents for underprivileged children. He’s helped talk his class at Bath Middle School into donating to the homeless with care bags. Twice a month, you can see him out handing hats and gloves to people in Lima’s Town Square.
DeWitt’s motivation is “because of doing God’s work, and I’m making them happy,” he said.
DeWitt didn’t really start talking until he was 5 years old, with sentences coming together in first or second grade. His generosity has helped him build up confidence, Howard said.
“With his Aspergers, he doesn’t know a bag guy,” she said. “He loves everybody and everything. … We try to work as much as we can with him to keep him doing what he likes to do, which is helping people.”
DeWitt doesn’t like making eye contact with people, but that doesn’t mean he’s shy around them. He likes to hug people, and many people bend down to him and tell him he’s a hero.
“A lot of people love it because he is so active and so open to the public,” Howard said. “He makes his mark everywhere he goes.”
He said he just likes to help, “by giving them clothes and food and drinks and stuff.” Someday, he hopes to step up his help “and give them shoes and food.”