Walmart greeter Spann Cordle’s manual wheelchair and service dog Finn prove two obvious reasons people remember Cordle, but start a conversation with him and a much less obvious reason emerges. Cordle maintains great ambitions to educate others about disability employment. Recently The Mobility Resource interviewed Cordle about said ambitions.
Born with the cerebral palsy, Spann Cordle always faced hurdles unknown to the ordinary person. For many in the disability community finding employment proves a challenge. However after graduating Jacksonville State University in 1982 Cordle managed to land a job as a probation officer for the state of Georgia.
Eventually marriage left Cordle relocating. A divorce led him back to Georgia though in 2007 where he gained employment as a greeter at the Chattooga County Walmart. Asked why he decided to leave the probation officer field upon returning to Georgia Cordle explained “In state corrections jobs are few and far between. Meaning those who have them tend to keep them, so upon my return (to Georgia) I applied to Walmart and luckily I was accepted.”
An Opportunity to Educate
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Working at Walmart Cordle discovered the opportunity to educate others about disability. His service dog Finn helps to facilitate such opportunities. Said Cordle “People mostly are unaware of service animals outside of seeing eye dogs, people see Finn. Their first response is ‘But you’re not blind.’ So Finn helps to educate and change perceptions of others.”
Listing the various ways Finn serves as an asset at work Cordle shared “He pulls my chair with the use of a harness. I guide his movement by moving my hand. He can open the break room door by it having a rope on the handle. He can push buttons on the Coke machine and if I drop something even as small as a dime or as flat as a post card, he can pick them up and put in my hand.”
Additionally through his hard work Cordle educated his manager at the Chattooga County Walmart about what people with disabilities can accomplish. He recalled “I had a store manager that saw beyond my disability and gave me the opportunity to try something more than the usual community perceived position for someone with a disability. He moved me to the Connection Center, selling and preparing cellphone contracts.”
Spann Cordle hopes the promotion to the Connection Center becomes only the beginning. He explained his dream job with the company. “I want to be transferred to the corporate office to work in Walmart’s ADA department.”
A setback did occur when Cordle transferred to the Griffin, GA Walmart in 2011. Without an opening at that store’s Connection Center he and Finn moved back into the greeter position. Showing perseverance and working towards his goal Cordle started doing public speaking. He stated his mission “to show by example that if determined and having a goal in mind that you can rise above a disability and achieve greater things.”