A pandemic parade for local elementary school's beloved custodian

An iconic figure in The Woodlands, known as "Mr. Jimmy", has worked for decades as the custodian and school crossing guard at Lamar Elementary School. He got the surprise of his life during the pandemic in the form a massive drive-by birthday party. The idea all came about, after his former colleague, Emilye Capan, saw him out walking. "He kind of got a little emotional about how he was missing his life at school and just missing seeing all of his friends. He's just one of those guys who remembers everybody's name, and he asked about my kids and kids he hadn't seen in a while," describes Emilye. She says the conversation really pulled on her heartstrings. After taking time to pray with him, she reached out to her friend, Amy Haymond, who put plans in motion to surprise Mr. Jimmy, after they found it was his birthday! 
       "I told him the kids and I are stopping by, wanted to make sure I had the correct address and make sure he was going to be around, so that's how we put it in motion. He knew I was coming by with something," says Amy. He just had no idea she was showing up with more than 100-friends!
       Pam Shelton was all over it, inviting those who know and love him. "They made posters and got confetti because he's known for our famous confetti parade (at Lamar) and we began to call friends and text friends and it just really took a life of its own. It was just so neat to arrive at the destination spot! We thought there'd be like 30 cars, but there were more than 100 people with signs and honking their horns, and cards and gifts for Mr Jimmy. I know he felt loved and honored because we just all love him so much," smiles Pam. 
       Their huge surprise worked! "I had no idea what was coming. All I knew is the one that coordinated everything that said she had something for me. And then here comes one of the photographers that I know very well and I go, what are you doing here, he goes, I heard it's your birthday, and he starts focusing behind me and I'm like what's going on. And she goes, got ya," laughs Mr. Jimmy. 
       This was even more meaningful for Mr. Jimmy, because he has been lonely during the COVID-19 pandemic. "People keep saying quarantine, people keep saying self-isolation, but in my case when you live by yourself and are as sociable as I am, it's neither one of those, it's solitary confinement," states Mr. Jimmy. He has worked at Lamar Elementary School in The Woodlands for 35-years. He keeps up with the children long after they leave his school. "He attends all of the major community events. So these every baseball game, football game soccer game, and he knows all the kids who are playing, so he'll go on the field and go throw the first ball, or he'll be out there cheering the kids on and they love him and he'll know their names, he'll know their jersey numbers, and he's just one of those people that has this magical thing about him that everyone wants to be around him, and he just loves everyone else the same," explains Pam. "He'll do anything for you!  Working with him, if I needed something, he would get it just like that, he was so accommodating and kind and always checking on you. I'm at a different school now and he still makes sure that the custodian at my school takes care of me. He's just got such a big heart, he's a great guy," exclaims Emilye. 
       Amy saw him in action first-hand, as well. "I was PTO President for three years, and he was just amazing to move chairs or tables or get things ready for whatever and whenever we needed it," reminisces Amy. The show of support at his pandemic parade is no surprise, considering he's a household name in his beloved community of The Woodlands. "He would get so choked up! There were former teachers, our former principal Mary Jane Kirbo was there, we had retired teachers, present teachers, lots of former students, and present students, it was just absolutely amazing to see," states Amy. 
       The ladies say they were close to needing a police escort, the birthday caravan was so long. All to surprise a man who took the time to care for their children and family. "It was very heart touching," smiles Mr. Jimmy. We hope you had a very Happy birthday, sir! Now that the state is reopening, he's able to go back to work and is relieved to get back into a routine of what he loves so much, helping others. 
       Thanks to Ted Bell Student Center for sharing special video and photos with us for this story.