Pre-planned routes are vital for those suffering with blindness, helping them navigate the world. Gene Hubbard can certainly relate to that, as he followed the same steps to his workplace every day for two decades. However, when roadworks interrupted that route in July 2018, another man led him into the middle of the road.
A resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hubbard suffers from diabetes, which ultimately led to his blindness. Since then, though, he’s been able to adapt, going about his daily business independently. The 69-year-old also continues to work, admitting that he doesn’t intend to retire just yet.
For the past 20 years, Hubbard has mapped out his daily route to the office, which starts with a walk to the nearest county bus stop. After taking the bus, he then continues his journey to work. However, that pre-planned route was thrown into jeopardy when roadworks began in the summer of 2018, leaving the 69-year-old in a tough spot.
Indeed, while talking about the situation he faced, Hubbard explained why even the slightest change could cause a major disruption to his journey. “If I don’t have a regular locating point to start from, I may as well be in the middle of the ocean,” he told WITI in July 2018.
Despite his struggles, though, Hubbard carried on as best he could, which drew sympathy from Milwaukee bus driver Thaddaus Turner. “The route was barricaded,” the 28-year-old told CNN in July 2018. “It was rough for me as a driver, I can only imagine how rough it was for him.”
With that in mind, Turner decided to take action one day as he neared the end of his shift. When the bus approached Hubbard’s stop, the 69-year-old noted the continuing roadworks, but the driver felt the need to offer some words of reassurance. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you,” Turner tells him in the resulting footage.
As the bus comes to a stop, Turner then leaves the driver’s seat, following Hubbard out to the sidewalk. From there, the pair lock arms and begin to cross the busy road, which brings the traffic to a standstill. But despite causing a gridlock, the 28-year-old’s focus in that moment doesn’t change.
“I knew I had the traffic behind me stopped, because it’s only one-way through there,” Turner recalled to WITI. “My concern was getting [Hubbard] across from the opposite direction.” In the footage, they eventually reach the sidewalk, with the driver returning to his bus soon after – but this kind gesture hadn’t gone unnoticed.
Indeed, as Hubbard and Turner crossed the road, one of the waiting drivers decided to take a picture of them. Touched by Turner’s actions, the driver then sent the image to WITI, who in turn posted the photo on its Facebook page. Before long, the post went viral, thrusting the unsuspecting pair into the spotlight.
The initial Facebook post earned more than 1,000 likes and close to 300 shares, while also generating over 70 comments from users praising Turner’s actions. However, the coverage didn’t end there, though, as the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) decided to share footage of the incident on its social media page.
Hubbard and Turner had been captured by the bus’ on-board camera, in fact, which recorded the heart-warming moment in full. “Thad Turner didn’t think twice before helping a rider who is blind across the street,” the MCTS wrote in the accompanying post. “But for those that saw it, it was an amazing act of kindness.”
The video has subsequently received close to 75,000 views since being posted in July 2018, as well as earning plenty of likes and shares. Meanwhile, the Facebook post has also generated some positive comments from online users.
“Mr. Turner, thank you for your human kindness in our crazy, sometimes violent, world,” wrote Linda Dorn. “You have the heart of a lion and the soul of a saint. Bless you and your family. You are a good man. MCTS is awesome to recognize its employees’ stories of helping their community.”
“[The drivers] are all unsung heroes,” Dorn’s post continued. “They all sound like great, caring people.” Those feelings were reiterated by fellow Facebook user Donna Zgoda, who also praised the work of Turner’s colleagues at the Milwaukee County Transit System.
“What a nice story to start the day with,” Zgoda wrote. “Please thank Thad Turner for helping this gentleman. It’s people like him who restore my hope for humanity. Thank you also to all the other bus drivers with your company who also go above and beyond for their customers!”
The glowing praise for Turner didn’t end there, though, as more people showed their appreciation for what he did. “What a magnificent human being!” wrote Doug Herdman. “Your driver demonstrates the very best of human kindness! Thank you for supporting his work ethic.”
One comment stood out from all the rest, however, as it was left by the woman who’d taken the initial photo of Hubbard and Turner. “I feel like I was placed there at the right time to capture this moment!” wrote Sydney Kazmierczak. “I am so happy I quickly pulled out my phone to snap the picture! Thad deserves to be recognized!”
For Turner, though, the overwhelmingly positive response to his actions came as something of a shock. “I was surprised when I saw it in the news,” he told CNN. “I didn’t think I would be here right now over something that is second nature to me and my colleagues.”
Indeed, Hubbard could certainly attest to that latter point, as Turner isn’t the first Milwaukee bus driver to offer him help. In fact, several others have taken the time to assist the 69-year-old in the past, which he hasn’t forgotten. “I just can’t say enough about all the bus drivers,” Hubbard told WITI.
As for the roadworks that disrupted Hubbard’s journey, they’re expected to finish in the fall of 2018, with his route then set to return to normal. Before that happens, though, he may just call upon someone like Turner again to help him navigate the obstacles in his way.