Restaurant staff surprise deaf co-worker with sign language birthday message

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Communication is key in the restaurant business and over the summer, employees at a St. Louis Park, Minn. business went above and beyond to make sure a fellow worker felt like one of the gang.

"Erick is a breath of fresh air,” said Kimberly Goettsche, a co-worker. “He works with his disability with a smile and he's just easy, an easygoing soul."

For the last four and a half years, Erick Curry has worked as a busser and bar back at The Yard House in St. Louis Park. A few weeks ago, his co-workers gave him a sign to let him know how much he means to them.

"I just thought it was important to show a team member that he is more than cared about on the floor,” said Goettsche. “He's cared about as a person, as a friend, as a family."

Curry lost his hearing after surviving spinal meningitis when he was three months old. His co-workers mostly communicate with him through writing, but for his birthday, they wanted to sing “Happy Birthday” to him in a way he could understand.

"It was a couple of people's birthdays and we’re out celebrating and I realized he was sitting off in the corner because everyone was being loud and rambunctious - no time to write and I realized it would be really nice to be able to include him in something or do something that was recognized," said Avita Samuels, a co-worker.

So about a dozen of Curry's fellow employees learned enough sign language to record a video of themselves signing the birthday song in front of the restaurant. They posted it to his Facebook page on his birthday because he didn't work that day and it quickly became the best birthday present he could get.

"It was a mix of emotions,” Curry told Fox 9. “I couldn't stop crying. It was so great that they did that for me. I love it. I love that feeling. It’s like a family."

Now some of The Yard House employees have been inspired to learn more sign language. It may seem like a small gesture, but to Curry it’s the language of love.

"He deserves it,” said Goettsche. “He deserves to be able to be communicated with in the language he knows and that's sign language."