SANDPOINT — Everyone who knows Shane Parson also knows the spark of his personality — and now, so does Walmart’s regional management.
The endlessly cheerful Parson was honored last week when Walmart regional manager Cedric Clark, the overseer of 52 stores and hundreds of employees across Idaho, selected him as the recipient of the Spark Award. An honor designed for individuals that go far above and beyond the call of duty in their attitude and diligence, the Spark Award is a major achievement for any Walmart employee. Parson certainly thinks so.
“(The award) feels great,” he said. “I just love it a lot.”
Anyone who knows Parson probably isn’t surprised that he scored the much-coveted plaque. The Walmart employee has acquired a reputation for being incorrigibly friendly and enthusiastic, oftentimes approaching complete strangers to introduce himself and strike up a conversation.
He gives his friendship so freely that most individuals can’t help but return the favor. In fact, a Facebook photo of Parson recently caught the attention of the many people he has impressed over the years, earning hundreds of “likes” and comments in the span of a few days.
The fan-base is well-earned. After all, Parson may be developmentally disabled, but that doesn’t stop him from having a more joy and fun-filled life than most people. Co-worker Christina Cady got an in-depth look at that fact when she offered to accompany him to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he could accept his award.
“I’m just so thrilled Walmart chose to honor him,” Cady said. “This is a guy who has a smile for everyone every day.”
The two started out on their journey Thursday with Cady picking Parson up for the flight from Spokane to Salt Lake City. Along the way, they tuned into a classic rock station on satellite radio, and Parson was quick to sing along with each song.
Once they boarded their plane, Parson added yet another individual to his circle of friends. The two sat next to a gentleman named Earl, who grew amazed by Parson as he learned of his skill at bowling and skiing and his enthusiasm for theme parks. Parson uses money earned at Walmart transporting shopping carts to buy season passes to Schweitzer and Silverwood, where the staff of both establishments know and love him. He also loves his bowling league and has very nearly played a perfect game of 300 — his next big goal.
By the time the flight was over, Parson had himself a brand new friend, an outcome he experiences most every day.
“I thanked Earl for being so nice,” Cady said. “He told me, ‘No, thank you for introducing me to him and letting me spend some time with him.’”
Over the course of the trip, Walmart paid for all the expenses, including a lunch at Red Robin, souvenirs, travel and gas expenses and a steak dinner at Coeur d’Alene’s Texas Roundhouse.
After the group finished their lunch at Red Robin, Clark presented Parson with the plaque commemorating the award. As for Cady, she is already making plans to spend another day with the eminently-likable individual.
“He is a very special gift,” she said. “Everyone should spend a ‘Shane Day’ with him and experience it for themselves.”