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Neighbors join 97-year-old blind grandpa who greets passing cars outside home


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    PHOENIX (KTVK, KPHO) — A 97-year-old Phoenix grandpa is getting some company as he greets drivers passing through his neighborhood near 15th Ave and Orangewood.

You might remember the story of Charley Bedel, who sits outside of his home every day and holds a sign that says, “Jesus Loves You.” All day long, people drive by, honking their hellos. Charley is blind. By now, most folks know that if they wave, he can’t see them, so they make sure to give a friendly honk.

His granddaughter posted her grandpa’s story on NextDoor, and now his neighbors know he’s counting each and every honk. “He loves to be out here and spread joy, and I wanted to let the people know he’s not able to see very well,” said Ruby Byrd.

Now, others have started to join Charley at his post. Neighbor Jan Jacobs is one of those who comes out to keep him company as he greets drivers. “We love Charley and we love what he’s doing,” said Jacobs. “So we wanted to come keep him company.”

Jacobs says they live in a special community, where people are friendly and genuinely care about each other. “It’s a quiet family neighborhood,” Jacobs said. “People sit out on their porches and their yards, and it’s not like being in a big city; it’s like being in a small town.”

On one side of Charley’s sign, it says “Jesus Loves You,” and the other explains that he is blind and partially deaf. “My grandpa had decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to start his own little ministry,” Ruby said. “He just wanted to spread awareness and joy, and so that was his only intent and just to let people know in times of uncertainty, Jesus loves you.”

Only the weather will keep him inside. “If it’s cold, I won’t come out here,” he told us.

Charley started coming out more frequently last fall after his wife died, and COVID-19 prevented him from visiting with friends. Now, it’s a regular activity, “I easily get a thousand cars go by here. I could have ten cars go by in ten seconds,” Charley said. ” It’s amazing how many cars go by.”

Charley says sometimes people stop and talk to him or pray with him. “It’s a good witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Like a woman said, she drove by, and she was really depressed, she saw my sign, and she got right with the Lord,” he said.

“He embodies what it means to really live a Christian life, and he’s in the community living it. Instead of talking about it, he’s doing it,” Ruby said. “It’s not a surprise. I feel like my grandpa has always gone above and beyond, and he’s just so caring and loving that he makes everyone’s day. He told me, ‘well I can’t see them very well, but at least I can make them feel good.'”

Ruby said after she posted about her grandfather on her NextDoor app, she was flooded with kind messages, which she read to Charley. “The comments are just so sweet and heartfelt, and the fact that people are saying he makes their day after a long day and their drive home and the fact my grandpa is making such a difference is not a surprise to me; he’s made a big difference his whole life,” Ruby said.

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