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Man walks to job where everyone knows his name, not his disability

Will Darling has the power to make a bad day into a good day, with a simple greeting delivered with genuine charm. (Photo credit: John Le, WLOS)

Walk a mile in our Person of the Week's shoes, and you'll see more than a disability.

"It's close to my house," Will Darling said of Biltmore Park.

To be precise, News 13 crews walked 1.1 miles with him to the place where everyone knows his name.

"Hi Will!" said a workout warrior at the Reuter YMCA.

"Hi!" he replied with a genuine happiness that's hard to put into words. Darling's conversations are short, but, oh, so sweet.

"Good morning!" Will said repeatedly during his shift as members check in. Each time, as if it's the last time.

His greeting is the daily exercise folks actually look forward to.

"Will's a good ambassador for the YMCA," member Richard Hurley said. "He's a real people person. Part of his DNA, I guess. Everyone who comes in here has to know Will."

Darling was born with a developmental disability. After starting out as a volunteer, the YMCA gave him a paid position him a few months ago.

Folks here think he was blessed with something you can't teach.

"He welcomes you every morning, and he knows your name," Peggy Muldrow said. "It's amazing!"

His knowledge of names is impressive.

"Joan," he said to another member.

"How'd you know that Will?" she asked.

"I guessed!" he said.

"If I'm having a bad day, he's going to make sure I have a good day!" Sue Hazlett said.

"Yeah, thank you," Will quickly responded.

Even the yoga instructor here thinks Will's a guru.

"So, last week we talked about it in class," Stacie Smith said. "He makes people feel good, and what if all of us took a minute to make people feel like Will does?"

"Are you having a good day? You make my day!" she told Will.

Folks respond to Darling by stuffing YMCA's comment box, which helps explain why he was April's employee of the month.

By the way, you may also recognize Will from his second job. He also bags groceries at Ingles on Long Shoals Road with the same zeal.

"Will definitely gets more compliments than the average employee," Reuter YMCA Associate Executive Director Jill Ibbotson said. "They often thank us for having him here."

"Please make sure to thank Will," Ibbotson said. "Because we're grateful to have him here."

Will's the one who gets a paycheck, but somehow everyone feels a little richer because he's here.

"He's genuinely excited to see you and it makes you feel special," Smith added.

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