EAST END, Ark. – One local man’s simple gesture is spreading goodwill and bringing his community together.
Ronnie is a special needs man who rides a bicycle every day throughout the small town of East End.
He visits all the shops and stores just to say “hello.”
The community is always there to welcome him with open arms and help him out when he needs it. In return, he always puts a smile on everybody’s face.
“I don’t know his name. It’s like Ronnie,” says one resident.
In the small town of roughly 200, this oblivious celebrity rides his bike all day.
Ronnie Stout is 60, and every day is spent on the road.
“I ride down here on East End and eat all the food,” he says, gripping tigers. “Tony the tiger handle bars!”
The East End native says he enjoys using his hands and smile to bring others joy.
“He likes to ask what everybody’s doing. He likes to tell us what all he’s eating,” says Lora Kaywooe, a waitress.
At the East End Cafe, where blood is not thicker than gravy.
“He calls me his tootsie. I don’t know but I like it,” she continues.
Lora can’t remember when the greetings began.
“He can’t ride his bicycle and wave. He’ll pull over and stand on the side and wave at everybody, visiting every business, every place, every stop, waving at everybody who passes by,” she says.
“They say ‘Hey Ronnie! How you doing today,” he tells us.
The kind gesture is returned by his neighbors in a way which Ronnie has no idea, like a Facebook page where neighbors ensure Ronnie has cold water on hot days and a hot meal on cold ones. And sometimes, mending what the life on the road can tear.
“Little holes in his shirt. I’d patch them. Put zippers in his jacket. Fix his hat,” says Amanda Cates, who owns Flawless Tanning.
Ronnie says he appreciates the help from friends. Most of his family isn’t around.
“My brother, my mama, my dad, and my brother, they’re all dead. They’re in heaven now,” he explains.
With no one to turn to, Ronnie learned he had more family than he thinks.
“They can’t just get in their car and go wherever and you see that, so you are just so appreciative,” says Amanda.
“When I think that, all these problems that I have, or think that I have and then you get around Ronnie and he’s just so happy in his situation,” adds Lora.
Ronnie might not know how popular he is, or how he touches lives, unaware he raises the spirit of his town with a wave of a hand.
“I feel it in my heart,” he says.