Larry Farrish Jr. and Levi looking at the camera smiling in front of a school bus

Engelhard Elementary School student Levi normally flashes a big smile and an excited wave as JCPS Bus Driver Larry Farrish Jr. approaches the first grader’s bus stop each morning.

But on Friday, something was different, Farrish said.

“I pulled up to the bus stop, and I saw Levi sitting down by himself with his head down, and it dawned on me, something is wrong,” Farrish said. “He’s always happy, but this particular day, he was not happy.”

Farrish asked Levi what was bothering him, and Levi looked up at him with “a face full of tears” and explained he didn’t have pajamas for “pajama day” at school.

“It hurt me so bad,” Farrish said. “That just wasn’t my Levi, and I wanted him to have a good day. No child should have to miss out on something as small as pajama day.”

So once Farrish dropped Levi at Engelhard and finished his morning bus run, he bought a few pairs of pajamas in varying sizes at a nearby Family Dollar, returned to the school, and asked the front office staff if they could call Levi down.

“I saw Levi coming down the hall, and he had a face just as happy as could be,” Farrish said. “It really turned the whole Friday around, for him and for me.”

Farrish’s kindness made for one ecstatic first grader.

“I can tell Mr. Larry is nice and his heart is filled with joy,” Levi said. “I’m usually really happy, but not on pajama day…When he got me the pajamas, I did a happy cry.”

Farrish began driving a bus about seven years ago, picking the position primarily to have weekends and summers off, he said. But the job quickly shifted into something more—a “passion” that allows him to make an impact. From playing rock, paper, scissors, to telling jokes, to perfecting special handshakes, Farrish said he loves connecting with students.

“They become my kids after they leave their parents,” Farrish said. “I make sure they get to and from school safe, but I also try to bring some type of joy to their lives.”

Farrish called the attention he’s received since Friday “overwhelming” and “touching.” He is not very active on social media, he said. But just like he went out of his way to help Levi, Farrish said people have gone out of their way to contact him and let him know the impact he’s had—not just on Levi—but on many of the students he’s driven throughout the years. 

“For people to actually be able to find me and reach out on behalf of such a small gesture, it made me cry,” Farrish said. “It feels good knowing I made an impact on a child’s life.”

By Juliann Morris