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Rain almost ruined her senior photo shoot. Then came an ‘awesome’ Starbucks employee

Starbucks employee welcomes senior with cerebral palsy whose photoshoot was ruined by rain

A Starbucks employee in Colorado welcomed Sydney Johansson, who has cerebral palsy, into the store to take her senior photos that were ruined by a heavy rain storm.
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A Starbucks employee in Colorado welcomed Sydney Johansson, who has cerebral palsy, into the store to take her senior photos that were ruined by a heavy rain storm.

In the eyes of one photographer, a Starbucks employee deserves an “awesome human” award after he went out of his way to make sure a Colorado high school senior still got her photo shoot.

The senior session for Sydney Johansson “should have been a disaster” when hurricane-strong rain and wind made the planned photo shoot all but impossible, according to photographer Jessica Vallia.

“Well, it rained. And it rained a lot,” she wrote on Facebook.

Sydney’s mom, Laura, said it was “POURING. Like flash flood pouring.”

And they couldn’t reschedule because Sydney, a soon-to-be Widefield High School senior, has cerebral palsy and a major surgery planned for next month. Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movement and coordination due to an abnormality of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 10,000 babies develop the disorder in the United States each year.

“With Sydney’s senior pictures scheduled to be outside, we were totally screwed,” Laura Johansson wrote on Facebook.

Not having many other options, Laura Johansson decided, “Let’s go to Starbucks. I mean worst thing they will say is no,” according to her Facebook post.

To Starbucks they went.

“She says to the guy at the counter... ‘You can tell me to screw off BUT it’s pouring, my daughter was supposed to have senior pictures outside. She is in a wheelchair, can we just come inside and take some pics?’” Vallia said.

The guy, a supervisor named Chris, said “absolutely,” Vallia said. He then offered his umbrella to them, helped get Sydney inside and brought them a towel to dry off with.

But he didn’t stop there.

Chris brought out free hot chocolate — made with soy milk just in case someone was lactose intolerant — along with cakepops and banana bread.

“I mean, we were literally invading their place of business and they were not letting us pay for ANYTHING,” Laura Johansson wrote. Employees at Starbucks also helped move around furniture, turn off unneeded lights and make colorful signs that were used as a backdrop.

Sydney had about an hour-long photoshoot inside of the Fountain, Colorado Starbucks, and the store denied payment for any of the coffee or treats.

“There were serious tears from all after taking in everything from yesterday’s senior session,” Vallia said. “I just wanted her to have the average senior session, like any other girl and instead she got THE RED CARPET in a way I couldn’t have been more proud to be a part of!!!”

Laura Johansson told KKTV that Sydney outlived their expectations, and they chose Starbucks because it seemed like a “teenager-thing” to do.

The employee, Chris Lopez, told KOAA that he was just there to help.

“I just want them to be confident going anywhere, knowing there are people who will help,” he told the station.

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