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Voices of Diversity: Arby's Worker Overcomes Disabilities

Bud Wharton

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - A lot of hard work goes into cooking an Arby's meal.

But your full experience at the Arby's on Blairs Ferry Road in Cedar Rapids comes from one man, who has nothing to do with what you eat.

"Bud's very energetic, loves customers, loves people," general manager James Schmidt said. "He just wants to do a job and he's always wanting to work."

Bud Wharton does his job weekly with a smile.

"Clean stools, or when I'm not cleaning stools, I'm greeting people," Wharton said.

"He does ten times more than what we started with," Schmidt said.

He started with what many may call nothing.

"It's hard to see sometimes, but I do it anyways," Wharton said.

A cardiac arrest as a teen and another accident left him blind and bound to a wheelchair.

Now he's part of Systems Unlimited. It's an Iowa City-based non-profit helping people with disabilities gain stability. For many, it starts with a job.

"We were very skeptical at first, because we're like okay, we can try something," Schmidt said.

But after training, the daily routine now keeps job coach Taylor Simon as his eyes.

Wharton's reach now stretches his abilities far beyond than what's asked of him.

"It was almost a blizzard out there and he was one of seven people who showed up for work," Schmidt said.

"Sometimes people will go out of their way to come up to him and say 'Thank you for your hard work, thank you for cleaning our tables,'" Simon said.

It's a two-way appreciation Wharton said he's most thankful for - the nurturing environment at Arby's and his love for the job. He said that's what keeps him wheeling through the dining room daily.

"Work all day like anybody," he said about his goals.

The Arby's corporate office has recognized Wharton for his hard work after positive comments were submitted about him.

Systems Unlimited also said they are always looking for opportunities to partner their clients with different organizations within the community.

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