It was exhausting, and it was exhilarating – both.

We started the day at 4 a.m. That’s when Corky Henderson gets up and starts his busy day. We ended the day around 8 p.m. We wanted to spend a ‘day in the life’ of this 46-year-old disabled man to get a snapshot of his life and to learn about a service support company that helps him.

“Aacres is a Godsend,” said Corky’s dad Kat Henderson.

Corky Henderson is developmentally disabled. As his father puts it, his son’s disability is connected to that part of the brain that affects speech. In fact Henderson didn’t speak a word until he was 11 years old.

His first word was “no.”

That’s what he said to a doctor who was about to give him a flu shot.

His mother Kay laughs about it now. It wasn’t funny then. In fact Henderson’s parents worried about their son’s future.

They worry less now, much less. Thanks to Aacres, a residential support company that also provides employment, outpatient, and transportation services for people with disabilities. And thanks to Centerforce, a non-profit organization that’s helped Henderson with his job searches and provided job coaching services as well. Centerforce has been working with Henderson for 15 years.

Henderson works in the cafeteria at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. We watched him work. Clearly, he loves working.

And he loves something else: “Money!” he says with a smile. He likes making it, and he likes spending it.

He’s not 100 percent independent yet, but he’s getting there. The money he makes he spends on rent and other living expenses.

“He pays all his bills,” said his mom with pride. “He loves his job. He loves his home.”

I think it’s safe to say he loves his life.