CBSN

George H.W. Bush's book-themed socks gifted by young man with Down syndrome

Former President George H.W. Bush honored his late wife, Barbara Bush, in a subtle, yet beautiful way during her private funeral Saturday -- all thanks to a young entrepreneur with Down syndrome. The 41st president, who has a known affinity for fancy footwear, wore socks adorned with colorful books -- a nod to the former first lady's commitment to family literacy.

And the tribute wouldn't have been possible without the help of John Cronin, 22, from Huntington, New York. John and his father, Mark Cronin, run a business called John's Crazy Socks. They sell more than 1,900 types of "colorful and fun" socks, according to their website, and donate 5 percent of their profits to the Special Olympics.

Mr. Bush's office contacted the company last week, asking for a pair of socks he could wear to his wife's funeral. John rush-delivered a box filled with book-themed socks to the former president's Houston office ahead of Saturday's memorial.

"It made me feel sad and I cried because he lost his wife," John told CBS News. "But it made me feel good, too, because I wanted the socks to make President Bush feel better. I wanted the socks to make him happy."

17883951-275038306233288-7638227485260487554-n.jpg

John Cronin, the co-founder of John's Crazy Socks, holds a box of socks he sent to former President H.W. Bush in 2017.

John's Crazy Socks

John's Crazy socks has sold more than 600 pairs of the "Library for Literacy" socks so far, Mark told CBS News, and 100 percent of the profits will be donated to the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation.

Mr. Bush is a repeat customer, too. Last year, John read a story about former President Bill Clinton giving Mr. Bush a pair of colorful socks -- so John sent a box of his footwear to Mr. Bush's office.

In March 2018, Mr. Bush's office called. He wanted more socks, and John was happy to oblige. He sent Mr. Bush his "Down Syndrome Superhero Socks," which the former president wore in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. The former president even tweeted a photo of him donning the fancy footwear.

Mr. Bush has long championed the rights of people with differing abilities. In 1990, he signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disabilities. 

The Cronins started their company in 2016 with a simple mission: to spread happiness through socks, and to show what people with disabilities can do. The company has since expanded to 33 employees, including 15 with "differing abilities," Mark said.

Barbara Bush died April 17 at the age of 92. She dedicated many years of her life to promoting literacy, which she saw as a gateway to opportunities and a future.