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New York business owner with Down syndrome responsible for former president Bush's unique socks

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Entrepreneur John Cronin supplied the socks worn by former President George H.W. Bush during Barbara Bush's funeral. John Cronin and his father, Mark, founded a company called John's Crazy Socks in 2016. (Image source: WCBS-TV video screenshot)

During former first lady Barbara Bush's funeral, former President George H.W. Bush wore some eye-catching socks — and they were made by a New York entrepreneur with a unique story, WCBS-TV reported.

What's the story?

Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the Bush family, posted a picture on Twitter of the socks the former president wore to the funeral.

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Bush is wearing dark socks with pictures of books on them — a tribute to his late wife's passion for literacy.

The socks came from a company called John's Crazy Socks, a company founded in 2016 by 22-year-old John Cronin and his father, Mark.

John has Down syndrome, and his company employees 30 people, half of whom have some type of disability.

"We are in the business of showing what people can do, and President Bush has a strong connection there," Mark said. "He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Bush had worn socks from John's Crazy Socks before, sporting a pair of superhero socks John designed on World Down Syndrome Day.

Before Barbara Bush's funeral, Mark said a representative of the former president called and asked for 20 pairs of socks for Bush and his family to "show their support for Mrs. Bush's legacy, specifically her commitment to literacy."

"When we saw that picture, it brought tears," Mark said. "For me, it's that special bond between my son and a former president."

How did John and Mark get started?

According to the company website, John always loved socks that expressed his mood and personality. He also studied retailing and customer service at a local tech high school.

Mark has a background in online sales and start-ups. So, John and his father decided to start a business that combined their passions and skills, and that benefitted others with special needs.

Five percent of the company's proceeds go to the Special Olympics, which John has competed in numerous times.

What about the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy?

Barbara Bush founded the Foundation for Family Literacy more than two decades ago, with the mission to "advocate for and establish literacy as a value in every home."

The foundation works to provide scholarships to low-income families and support programs that help both children and parents learn how to read and write well.

According to the website, children not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school, and 36 million adults in the United States can't read or write at a basic level, which contributes to inequality, unemployment and poor health.

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