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Vacuum salesman invited to a birthday party for a child with autism moved the room to tears

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Ever since he was a two-year-old boy, Dylan Johnson has had a passion for vacuum cleaners. Dylan, who has autism, was never into "normal" toys, his mother Jodie said. The Swift Creek Middle School student turned 14 years old over the weekend and celebrated his birthday with a party that included close friends, family and a vacuum salesman.


Unidentified Kirby employee (left). Dylan Johnson (center) and Al Archie (right)


You see, in an effort to help make her son's birthday even more special, Jodie Greene sent the following email to the Kirby Company, the Cleveland-based makers of the Kirby vacuum.

I am reaching out to you in hopes for an answer to an unusual request for my son who is autistic. He has always been obsessed with vacuum cleaners. His favorite is the Kirby. He spends hours every day watching videos on his tablet about different Kirby's. When he isn't watching videos about them, he is talking about them. I really would LOVE to get a demo done for him for his birthday. In fact, I am even getting him a cake made that looks like a Kirby vacuum. I am writing to you in hopes that you can get me in touch with a way to get him this demo. I want to be clear that I do not intend on purchasing a Kirby. I was hoping that I could pay a flat fee or thought that maybe if you have salesmen in training that needs to get in practice demos for training purposes. I do not want anything free, but as the mother of a special needs child, it is so hard to find things to make my son happy. I know that having this demo done would just be so awesome, and it would warm my heart to see him so excited to experience that.

The company received Jodie's email and made her son's birthday dream come true. In addition to sending Dylan a soccer ball, hat and t-shirt with the Kirby logo, Kirby salesman Al Archie traveled from Fredericksburg to Chesterfield to perform a vacuum demonstration at Dylan's party.


Al Archie demonstrates the Kirby to Dylan


"He knew more about the Kirby than I did," an obviously impressed Archie said. "I have never experienced anything like that."

Archie has been selling vacuums for Kirby for 25 years.

He said he was moved by Dylan's knowledge and enthusiasm. He was taken aback by photos of a much younger Dylan dressed up as a vacuum salesman.

Dylan, at age 4, dressed as a vacuum salesman

Dylan, at age 4, dressed as a vacuum salesman

"I imagine it was like a sports fan meeting one of his idols, like Michael Jordan," Archie said.

While Archie said he was surprised by what he encountered at the party, no one at the party was prepared for the surprise Archie had in store for Dylan.

"At the end of the demonstration [he] gave my son a brand new Kirby vacuum," Jodie Greene said. "There was not a dry eye in the house."


Archie gave Dylan a new vacuum for his birthday


Kirby vacuums, Archie said, are not a cheap, but he decided to get one for Dylan as a way to celebrate the child's passion.

"I planned I wanted to do something for him," Archie said. "[It was] an opportunity to give something back."

Jodie Greene said her son has been over the moon ever since his birthday surprise.

"I'm going to have the cleanest carpets in Chesterfield County," she joked.


  • JStevens

    CBS6 should put this deeply kind Kirby sales representative’s contact information in the body of this article, so that folks who want to purchase from him can do so. He is a hero.

  • Lizanne

    I love the photo of Dylan when he was 4 years old, dressed up like a vacuum cleaner salesman. Kirby surely made a dream come true for this young vacuum cleaner expert. Sounds like the greatest birthday party ever. Dylan’s big smile says it all :) Wow – What an amazing story!

  • Reggie Ridlen

    I actually dressed up as a vacuum cleaner, not a salesman but the machine itself… I was a strange child I suppose, but what is ‘normal’ supposed to be anyway? I have over 400 vacuum cleaners in my personal vacuum collection, all of them restored, and work in a vacuum store that when my boss retires, I plan on owning. The vacuum cleaner business is, surprisingly, a good business to be in, think about it, we all have them. Many collectors out there own vacuum stores and I suspect he will end up with a rewarding career in this business too one day.

  • Lyndrea Munnerlyn

    From one special needs parent to another . . . KUDOS to you Jodie!!!!!!!!! Happy Birthday to Dylan and God bless you both!!!

  • B ADDY

    Great story all the way around! Mr Archie a tip of the hat to you sir, as well as the Kirby company. He should be recognized nationally by the company. And what a great Mom!

  • Kim

    I am also a mother of an autistic son… and its hard to keep him happy… I am also a single mother so money is tight… I totally understand when it comes to passion of just one thing… my son however changes his mind constantly… he may be into one thing for a month or something else for a week… and when he sets his mind to something he has to have everything about that item… I just wanted to say that it was a very wonderful thing the Kirby company and their wonderful salesman Archie did for this lady and her son… and if he feels like vacuuming my house is always open… lol…

  • awfulcat

    What a wonderful story. I can totally relate, my kid’s into legal disclaimers. :-) Biz Stone said “Philanthropy is the new marketing.” Nice to see that Kirby understands that.

  • M Emery

    What a wonderful surprise for your son ! My son is now 26,also has autism,and obsessed with vaccums.. I understand the concept completely.! He now has a job with at a vacuum store,and they are in awe of his knowledge.

  • fun times @ my ridgemont high

    This is the perfect marketing tactic. too bad more salesmen don’t take note of this, the world would be so much better…

  • Tom

    Try not to talk about Dylan in the third person. I know it’s a small detail but it’s one of the small differences in the anchors who make it form the local news to something bigger.

  • Jody Ferguson

    Archie and Kirby: You will never know just how many people you have touched with this unselfish act of kindness. Dylan and his family were not the only ones that did not have dry eyes after this story. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity especially at a time when we need to hear stories like this. I have a feeling Kirby sales will be up!

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