Autistic Crestview boy making a difference across Northwest Florida

CRESTVIEW — In his seven short years, Jae Williams has made an impact on hundreds of people.

From visits to Ronald McDonald House to the local fire station, he aims to make people smile with a kind gesture.

"Jae is a high-functioning autistic child," said his mom, Cassey. "He has some speech and hearing delays and was bullied a lot in school. But at one trip to the (Nemours) Children's Hospital, he realized everybody is different. He started making friends with some of the kids at the hospital."

It started about two years ago when Jae asked his mom if he could bring some goodies to the kids at the hospital. Jae then asked his mom if they could start a Facebook page as a way to keep in touch with his new friends.

"I told him 'no' at first because he's just a kid," Cassey said. "But he said, 'Mom, we could help lots of people.' "

So Cassey gave in. She runs his page, titled Be the Change_Jae, where she shares pictures of Jae visiting first responders, Nemours Children's Hospital in Pensacola and Ronald McDonald House, plus messages Jae tells her to put on the page. The positive comments and regular "likes" have only encouraged Jae's do-good spirit. The page has gained nearly 500 fans since it began.

"It helps him with reading — we read the comments together," Cassey said. "And it gives him a self-esteem boost."

Like a lot of young boys, Jae has a fascination with firefighters and wants to be one when he grows up. He's become semi-famous to first responders who recognize him out in public. Crestview firefighters even came to Jae's birthday party in July and set up an obstacle course at his house.

Cassey said it's very "humbling" to see her son have such a strong passion for giving back — even if it sometimes gets expensive.

"I'll keep it going as long as Jae wants to," she said. "He told me he likes making the Earth happy."

The Williams family is currently in the process of adopting a set of twins. Cassey said she's excited to see Jae become a big brother and set a good example.

As for Jae, he says he continues to do good because it's the right thing to do.

"It makes my heart happy," he said.

You can follow along with Jae at facebook.com/Jaedynisthechange.