Autistic man taken in by local teacher donates vacation savings to hurricane victim

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 4:50 PM CDT
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) – Chris Barrington, a 31-year-old autistic man with the mental ability of a 10-year-old who was taken in by his former teacher, Michell Girard, whose name was all he was able to provide Coryell County deputies who found him wandering the streets a year ago, has contributed all of his vacation savings to help a victim of Hurricane Laura in Louisiana.

Barrington gave every last penny he saved in his piggy bank to Jimmy Bennett, founder of JMB Fishing Foundation, which helps people in need.

Chris saw a video Jimmy posted online asking for help in rebuilding a man’s home in Sulphur, La., while the foundation was working last week in the hurricane-devastated area.

“The young man who had nothing must have remembered what it was like to have nothing,” Bennett said.

“Chris has given everything he has to a stranger that lost everything he has.”

Jimmy made the plea in a live video on Friday from the devastated home of Louisiana resident Donald Guidry.

Neither Jimmy nor Chris knew Guidry, but Chris knew Jimmy because the foundation has helped him, too, throwing his first-ever birthday party last year.

Hours after the post Friday Jimmy was back in Waco for a “Cookies for Ceagan” event for 5-year-old Ceagan Roberts of Hewitt who is battling DIPG, a rare form of cancer.

Chris attended the event and brought along $25.35 in a Ziploc bag with a note written in marker on the outside which read: “To: Jimmy. For the man in Louisiana. Love, Chris.”

Michell was with Chris as he handed the donation to Jimmy.

She has been a constant in Chris' life since deputies found him wandering alone along State Highway 84 last year.

Chris' mother was dead and his father was in late stages of leukemia when he was found.

His father died shortly after.

Chris had no relatives to call, but remembered his special needs teacher from Gatesville who had no children.

“I said ‘What happens if I don’t take him? Will he get in a group home?’ They said ‘No he’ll go into an institution,’” Michell said.

“I said ‘not on my watch he’s not.’”

Michell, 60, is now Chris' legal guardian and he calls her “Mimi.”

She beamed with pride as she talked to Chris about his selfless gift to a stranger.

“Why did you give him money?” she asked.

“To help Mr. Guidry,” he answered.

“Where did you get that money from?” she asked.

“Our piggy banks,” he said.

She asked him what they were going to use it for and he answered “vacation.”

“So, now we don’t get to go on vacation,” she said.

“So, why did you choose to give it to Mr. Guidry?”

“Because he needs a new house,” Chris answered.

“I’m proud of you. Thank you for doing that. That was really sweet,” she said.

Jimmy said his crew plans to hand deliver the donation to the man in Louisiana and will use every last cent on making sure Guidry’s house gets a new roof and a porch, too.

And when that’s done, Jimmy’s on a new mission.

“Chris dreams of going to New York City,” he said.

“And somehow, I’m going to make sure that happens.”

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