Cayce boy forms friendship with local sanitation team

By Natalie Szrajer
Posted 7/26/23

It’s been more than a year since Luke Thompson’s excitement over his neighborhood garbage truck caused the like button on Facebook to explode with joy. 

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Cayce boy forms friendship with local sanitation team


It’s been more than a year since Luke Thompson’s excitement over his neighborhood garbage truck caused the like button on Facebook to explode with joy. 

That’s precisely what happened when Thompson’s nanny, Katy Tevepaugh, captured him waving and yelling, “Hey!” at the City of Cayce sanitation truck at the corner of M Avenue and State Street and posted on it on Facebook.

It’s not unlikely that kids get excited to see the garbage truck pass by, but for Thompson, it makes his day to see the truck and his friends as they go around doing their daily duties.

“They’re including [him in] their routine,” said Tevepaugh, who has been a caretaker for Thompson since he was six weeks old. 

“He’s 5 now and he loves fire trucks, police cars and airplanes,” said Tevepaugh, noting that garbage trucks are at the top of that list.

While Tevepaugh was hired to help take care of Thompson, who was born with Down syndrome, she said he’s made her a better person, especially when it comes to inclusivity and how frustrating it can be when things or people aren’t inclusive.

Despite being born with the condition and having heart surgery at a young age, Thompson is “a fun, loving, sweet yet stubborn at times” kid, Tevepaugh said.

His mom, Lacey Thompson, said she “wants people to see he is more like other kids than different.”

“He just has adjustments to be included,” said Lacey, noting his issues with brain processing and speech difficulties. 

The year-long relationship that has been built between Luke and the sanitation crew has been meaningful for not only Luke but the crew as well.

“One morning we missed [the truck] and he was crying, ‘Nick!’ and ‘Shane!’ They made an extra trip to see him,” Tevepaugh said. “They go the extra mile.”

The crew that has formed a unique friendship with Luke are Nick Cross, Shane Roof and Chris Weed. Roof is a Driver for the truck and Cross and Weed are refuse collectors. 

“One day I was running along and Luke was on the front porch wanting me to blow the horn,” Cross said. “We just formed a relationship, and he means a lot to us. It just puts a smile on our faces.”

While Cross acknowledged the fact that it’s not uncommon for kids to love the garbage truck rolling around the neighborhood, he said, “It’s different with Luke. He wants to be involved and if he could drive the truck, he would.”

Whenever the truck starts to roll on Tuesday to pick up the Thompson’s trash or on Friday down State Street for another route, Luke and Tevepaugh make sure they come out to see their crew and even have Luke climb in the seat and blow the horn. His fascination brightens the crew’s day.

“What I love seeing and my hope is for [Luke] to be employed one day,” said Lacey, noting that she’d be happy if it’s with the City of Cayce or elsewhere. “A majority of people with Down syndrome aren’t employed.”

According to Hire Me SC, South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country for people with disabilities. 

“With him, he’s processing how to do certain elements of driving and hopefully they’ll employ him when he’s older,” Lacey said.

While Luke gets enjoyment from seeing the truck and his friends, it’s a boost to the sanitation crew as well.

“You can see how much it means to the team. They get appreciation for their work they do. It’s important for the quality of life and the quality of care,” said Mike Conley, Cayce’s assistant city manager. “Our Cayce community enjoys the sanitation team.”

The team is made of 25 workers and 10 garbage trucks. 

It’s just a “sweet little friendship,” Tevepaugh said of their bond with Luke. 

cayce sanitation, Lexington county down syndrome


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