So I’m spending my last week before I depart at home in Valhalla, NY. And while I’m packing and getting ready to leave, I visited my elementary school where they invited me to speak. In honor of my trip and the 4K for Cancer, Kensico School’s student council and Principal, Matt Curran (my 5th grade teacher while I attended Kensico School) organized a fundraiser – everyone wore pink/purple and donated $1 to do so.
When I walked inside, everything was the same as I had remembered it. But my eyes were drawn to a poster, advertising the pink/purple fundraiser and meeting someone named “Michael Grant.” How wild it was to see a poster with my name on it, advertising my ride, and fundraising for me. Breaking my shock, Mr. Curran greeted me and we quickly caught up. He walked me throughout the familiar halls of Kensico School, everything seeming exactly the same as when I had left 11 years ago. He brought me to the gym where I was to give a presentation on the 4K.
“Attention boys and girls – Michael Grant is here and ready to meet you all. At this time, will the 3rd grade classes and their teachers please report to the gymnasium.” What!? I felt like a celebrity. And sure enough, the kids started pouring in. Here, I’m expecting to be in the small, casual cafeteria, but instead, I’m in a giant gym in front of hundreds of kids that just keep filling in. Cue the nerves.
I stutter and “um” through my introduction and get lost in my thoughts, until I ask the question, “How many of you like to bike ride?” Hands fire into the air until I cannot find a single hand down. Ah. Maybe this won’t be so difficult.
After, Mr. Curran calls up the student council president and announces the total amount raised: $275 (which I would later find out kept increasing from additional donations). He continues with another $250 donation from Mrs. Romano’s class, who held a fundraiser in December but could not decide on a charity until they heard about my ride. Kensico School gave me a water bottle (which I will need), a seat cushion (which I will definitely need), a lunch box, two t-shirts, a highlighter, a journal, and more. I was overwhelmed – I was not nearly expecting any of this. And to top it all off, Mr. Curran and a childhood friend (now teacher aide) secretly put together a montage of photos from my time in 3rd grade through 12th grade. I’m not sure if it was on purpose or coincidence that they chose some of the most embarrassing and awkward photos form my teenage years. 😉 In all seriousness, though, it was a touching and special presentation – My eleven year old self would never have imagined I’d be back as a 23 year old and speaking at my very own assembly.
Kensico School, and the generous teachers who donated individually, helped raise over $900 for the 4K for Cancer. I can’t imagine the difference that is going to make for young adults facing cancer. Thank you Mr. Curran, teachers, staff, and the students of Kensico School.
“Round my hometown, memories are fresh
Round my hometown, the people I’ve met
are the wonders of my world…”