MERIDIAN - For most kids, riding the school bus is a big part of their daily lives during the school year. For one Meridian family, their school bus driver and bus monitor do much more than just transport the kids from point A to point B.
The Larsen kids love riding the bus to and from Hillsdale Elementary.
"They have some special needs and are wonderful, but they have some struggles that are very hard for them," said the kids' mom, Lindsay Larsen. "We have autism, speech delays, developmental delays, global delays."
Mornings aren't always easy, but this family has a special team on their side - Cascade Transportation bus driver Cindy Phillips and bus monitor Mikey Lee.
"I really like Cindy and Mikey because they are so kind," says Christian Larsen, a student at Hillsdale.
"The kids love them I love them. They bring us joy too with their smiles and their kindness," Lindsay said. "There have been times when Christian is refusing to get on [the bus] and Mikey will come off and help cheer him up and get him there."
For his part, Mikey loves his job.
"I really enjoy it because you wake up in the morning and you know you are doing something that is actually helping out," he said. "It's not a job about money. It's about the passion behind it."
And Cindy always greets them with a smile.
"They give me peace of mind," Lindsay said. "That's what every special needs family, and every family needs."
Cindy and Mikey were surprised to be recognized.
"Its very humbling," Cindy said. "It makes me feel really good that she trusts us so much with her precious cargo."
Mikey echoed that sentiment.
"It's a great honor," he said. "The fact that she would think of us of all people."
To this mom and to these kids - they are like family.
"They work this job which is not a highly paid job, it does not get recognition," Lindsay said. "They are truly there for the kids and they are not just making a difference in my kids lives, but all the kids who ride the bus."