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Bartow student gives classmate with autism pair of shoes after noticing his broken boots

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Joseph Brown, a tenth-grade student at Bartow High School, has many reasons for looking forward to his Criminal Justice class. Just one of the reasons is Joseph, who also goes by the name Jojo, has aspirations to become a police officer.

Another reason is his classmate, Carlos Perez.

Last week Brown didn’t know Perez. But Perez noticed Brown, specifically his shoes.  

“I seen that his shoes were broke,” said Perez.

Brown, who is on the autism spectrum, said his boots were falling apart and one of his soles was worn through.

“I was sick of my old boots. They would make a noise when I walked around,” said Brown.

That’s when Perez stepped in. 

“He asked to speak to Jojo in the hallway. They had a private conversation and came back in and (Carlos) got some shoes out his backpack and handed them to Jojo,” their Criminal Justice teacher Melinda Dorman said. “Part of what I try to teach my students is, the act of giving back, the public service side of the criminal justice profession is about that.”

Perez says the sole purpose of his generosity was because he once found himself in Brown’s shoes.

“I got made fun of in elementary and middle school for having broke shoes, I didn’t want him getting bullied, so I gave him mine,” said Perez.

The shoes gifted to Brown by his classmate were a size 11.5. Brown wears a size 9.5, but tells 8 On Your Side that, despite the large size, the shoes are perfect.

“He gave me a pair of his shoes. I wasn’t expecting him to do that. What Carlos did for me, it was one of the most special things anyone has ever done for me,” Brown said. “It really was the friendship, I really love making new friends. It always makes me happy, if I make a new friend.”

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