MOORHEAD — On one of early fall's perfect mornings, people at south Fargo's Butler Building are lining up for some morning coffee to kick-start their day.
Nicole Atherton was ready, and had brought her pop up coffee shop to serve her customers, which are mainly University of Mary students and local business owners.
The reviews are in and Nicole's pop up coffee shop is a hit. Every carefully measured ounce of milk, delicious drops of caramel and specialty drinks with chocolate chips are part of Nicole's dream job. And it's all because she pushed the boundaries to be treated just like everyone else.
Nicole was assisted by her longtime occupational therapist, Kevin Anderson. Anderson started working with Atherton when she was just a toddler.
"I have known her for 30 years," Anderson said. "She had written on an assignment that she had always dreamed of being a barista."
Nicole has dreamed of being a coffee maker. When many chain coffee shops in the metro wouldn't allow it, Nicole and her team of supporters thought she could just start her own pop up espresso coffee shop. So, she did.
"I have always wanted to be a barista — since 2018," Nicole said.
"To get to that point where we can find something they want to do, I believe our community should be inclusive and when they find something they like, it is such a bonus," Anderson said.
For Nicole's family, her accomplishment is a sight to see. For years, Nicole Atherton's mother, Donna Atherton has watched as her daughter and son have been excluded at times.
"People put people in a box and think they cannot achieve, but here you see, she can achieve," Donna Atherton said.
Now, Red River Coffee has heard about Nicole, and she can be found practicing her barista art there.