MILL VALLEY, Calif. (KTVU) - There is a special friendship between a young boy in Mill Valley and the garbage collector who comes by his home weekly. Recently, the garbage man was seriously injured after a vehicle accident and his family tells KTVU what the boy is doing is making a difference.
Steve Cunningham, the garbage collector worked at Mill Valley Refuse for 15 years until last month when an accident left him paralyzed. Now, a young friend he made along his route is trying to help.
Shortly before 6 a.m., Mill Valley Refuse rolls out its garbage collection trucks and they make their way into neighborhoods.
Several miles away, Saxton Yuill is having breakfast, getting ready for school. On Tuesdays, the 6-year-old waits for the sound of the garbage truck and runs outside to greet the garbage collector.
When Saxton and his family moved into the neighborhood a year ago, he met Steve, the garbage man. The two had a routine.
"He says, ‘do you want to pull the lever every time and I just do it," Saxton says.
But a few weeks ago, Steve stopped coming by. It was a different garbage man.
"He wasn't there. Maybe he was sick or something. Maybe he's running late," says Saxton.
Steve Cunningham of San Pablo was seriously injured. On August 22nd, he crashed his pickup truck into the toll plaza at the Richmond San Rafael Bridge on his way to work.
Steve's family says he doesn't remember what happened but they suspect he fell asleep at the wheel. Steve remains in the hospital, paralyzed from the chest down.
"He's going through the mourning of his legs because he won't be able to walk again," says Jordan Drolette, Steve's daughter.
Saxon's mom Anna Yuill told the little boy Steve is sick and won't be coming by.
Saxon told his mom he wanted to help.
"I said wow, that's amazing. Of course, let’s do it," says Yuill.
Saxton has held two bake sales and raised about $1,000 dollars. He has given the money to Steve's family.
"It just gives you a new sense of hope," says Drolette.
Steve's daughter says she showed her father a photo of Saxton at his bake sale.
"He just went speechless, didn't say much. But I can tell he's appreciative of what Saxton did," says Drolette
Almost every Tuesday, Saxton still runs out to the garbage truck.
The first grader tells KTVU he knows the collector won't be Steve, but hopes to be able to talk to his friend again.
"I would say— are you okay Steve? I hope you feel better," says Saxton.
Steve's family says when he's well enough; they will bring Saxton to visit with him.