A 30-year-old man with special needs was found wandering the streets. His former teacher took him in

Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-16 18:41:01-04

(CNN) — Chris Barrington faced an uncertain future, until someone from his past stepped up.

Two months ago, Barrington, a 30-year-old Texas man with special needs, was found wandering along a road in Gatesville. Barrington functions at the level of a 6-year-old and had been walking around town alone for two days.

His father was suffering with late-stage leukemia and couldn't take care of him. Barrington has no other known immediate family members, but he told the law enforcement officers who found him that his junior high school teacher was Michell Girard.

"I said, 'What happens if I don't take him? Will he get in a group home?' They said, 'No, he'll go in to an institution,' " Girard told CNN affiliate KWTX. "I said not on my watch he's not."

And that's how Barrington came to live with a woman he hadn't seen in years.

Girard taught Barrington for four years but hadn't interacted with him for a long time. She applied for guardianship of Barrington after his father died earlier this month. She also did something else special for him: throwing his first birthday party.

"He's never had a birthday present, a birthday party. He's never had Christmas, Thanksgiving, nothing," Girard told KWTX. "So this year is going to be full of firsts."

He also rode in a boat for the first time

Those firsts for Barrington also included a boat ride.

Girard put a call out on her Facebook page for someone with a boat to take him out for a spin on a lake, after he told her he'd never been on a boat.

"I was wondering if anyone with a boat that they will be taking out, in the next few weeks, could possibly take the 2 of us for a ride," she wrote in her post.

"He is very (skittish) of new things, so I'm thinking it would need to not be too little of a boat. Everyone who meets him, just falls in love. He is so funny and appreciative of everything, especially since he has been denied so many opportunities. I would sincerely appreciate it and I know he would love it," she wrote.

The owner of a local fishing company honored the request, taking Barrington and Girard out for a ride on Lake Waco.