On July 3, 2021, when Sam Waldron gave his best man speech at his elder brother’s wedding, he took the newlyweds and their 170 guests on an emotional roller coaster.
Sam, 23, who has autism, told his big brother Jonah, 27, that he was his “hero” and “never looked down” on him, which made everyone at the reception laugh and cry.
Sam stated at the start of his speech that he was frequently afraid to engage with others because of his disability, but that his “best brother” was always there to remind him that “being different is a true strength, not a weakness.”
Sam had some nice things to say about Jonah’s lovely bride, Madison, 25, who he described as having “all the makings of a great sister.”
“For me personally, Maddy, you know that sometimes I can get very uncomfortable and nervous around many people…I have never been that way around you. You give me peace,” Sam said.
“You bring peace to all of those around you. I love you, Maddy.”
Sam admitted to being “very apprehensive” before giving the speech in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“Before I stood up, I wasn’t sure if everyone would like my speech, but I got more comfortable as I started reading,” he recalled.
Despite his worries, Sam, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of seven, said he felt like he was serving a higher purpose while standing there and making his speech.
“I felt like I was speaking out to whoever has autism and that I was speaking for the autism community,” he said.
As he listened to his autistic younger brother, Jonah couldn’t help but become upset.
Everyone applauded and gave Sam a standing ovation once he finished his remarks. Jonah hugged his brother after that, evidently grateful and proud of him.
Sam described his relationship with Jonah as “simply amazing.”
“We hang out together and have fun,” he said.
People with autism may struggle with social interactions, but Sam was fortunate in that he had the support of his family. Sam went to the same school as Jonah, and the kind big brother was always there to help him.
“He would come to see me during the school day, he would come for help with a subject or as a break,” Jonah said.
“Myself and my parents were the ones he felt the most comfortable talking to about any struggles that he had socially,” he added. “I also became his Respite Care worker, helping him practice social situations in public settings.”
At Wartburg College, he met Maddy, a teacher. When Jonah introduced Sam to her then-girlfriend, the two hit it off right away.
They were engaged on a trip to Buena Vista, Colorado, and he asked Sam to be his best man as soon as they returned home.
“I’ve always known that I wanted Sam as my best man,” he said.
Sam was ecstatic to be chosen, but he was clearly scared as well.
“I felt like my dream came true,” he said. “I was nervous at first but then I felt happy because I got to be around my best brother.”
Sam spent two days practicing and reading the speech to his father and aunt to ensure that it was flawless. And on the big day, the rehearsals were well worth it because his speech moved everyone at the reception.
“My favourite part was when he was explaining to Maddy that she gave him peace, because that is exactly how I would explain the way she is with Sam,” Jonah said. “Everyone I saw was crying and laughing, he mixed all of that together very well.”
On their joint TikTok account, Jonah and Maddy posted a video of Sam’s complete speech, which has already been seen by millions of people.
In the video below, you can hear Sam’s viral best man speech.