Bus driver surprises student with decorated school bus in honor of her birthday

Courtesy Kathleen Hopson
Courtesy Kathleen Hopson

(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — A school bus driver has pulled out all the stops to make one of her little passengers feel special on her birthday.

Arletha Sherman, 64, of Jacksonville, Fla., decorated her school bus this week in honor of Anna Hopson’s fifth birthday.

“She’s touched my heart,” Sherman told Good Morning America of Anna. “She never complains. She has the most beautiful smile and it inspired me to do something for her.”

Anna Hopson is a pre-kindergarten student at Sabal Palm Elementary School in Jacksonville, Fla. Anna has a progressive neuromuscular disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which causes nerve damage mostly in the arms and legs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Mom Kathleen Hopson told GMA that Anna, who has been using a wheelchair for the last six months, rides Sherman’s wheelchair-accessible bus.

“Anna’s pretty independent and she’s been riding the bus without a parent since she was 3 years old,” Hopson said. “Arletha [Sherman] is an excellent bus driver and a very caring person. She loves all the kids that she drives and always goes above and beyond to make them feel safe and happy on the bus.”

Hopson said Sherman gave a princess gown and tiara for Anna. When Anna boarded the bus on April 10, it had been decorated with streamers and a “Happy Birthday” banner.

“[S]he looked around and asked, ‘Is this all for me?'” Hopson recalled. “Anna was thrilled and surprised.”

Sherman said some of the children on the bus sang “Happy Birthday” to Anna. Local news stations reported on the story after Anna’s aunt shared photos of the surprise on social media, Sherman said, adding that Anna is going to serve as flower girl in her July 27 wedding.

Sherman hopes Anna’s story encourages other bus drivers to spread kindness to children.

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