Gibson Co. 6-year-old experiences ‘Walmart Heart’

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MILAN, Tenn. — It was a day to remember in Gibson County as a community gathered to honor a very special child from Medina, giving him a once-in-a-lifetime ride that will surely stay with him and his family forever. Eli Britt is only six years old, but on Friday he was made an honorary Walmart truck driver. “We didn’t have any idea it was going to be like this,” Eli’s father, Tommy Britt, said. “I mean, this is above anything I ever thought.” It was all part of a program called Walmart Heart. “We have drivers across our country at every place that participate,” Walmart driver Dan Lohnes said. “It’s all our own time. We do it because we want to.” The nationwide program aims to make children and adults with different challenges feel special for a day. For Eli, who has Down Syndrome, it definitely put a smile on his face. “He’s just like anyone else. He’s just got a little more special needs, and you have to pay attention a little more.” Britt said. “He’s the best thing to ever happen to me.” Eli’s story with the Walmart Heart program goes back a few months when Walmart driver Brian McKell moved next door and met him for the first time. “The next thing I knew I was standing outside, and here comes Eli,” McKell said. “He comes running around the bushes and runs up to me, sticks his hands out and wants to shake my hand. We stood there and talked for a few minutes.” During those few minutes, a lifelong friendship was born. Dozens of strangers came out Friday, donating their time and gifts to show Eli his community cares about him. “To sacrifice their time and time with their families to do this for mine — I still can’t believe that,” Britt said. Eli is now riding away in style with a new truck and even his own uniform but most of all a new family and friends to help him along his journey. “This day will never be forgotten for this family,” Lohnes said. “As long as they live they will remember how we honored their son Eli, and I’m sure Eli will never forget it either.” Walmart Heart gave the Britt family more than $2,000 worth of gift cards to help them with expenses, all of which were donated. Since the program began in Texas, hundreds of children have been honored.

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