January 27, 2012

2012 Catholic Schools Week Supplement

Spirit of family inspires students to help teacher’s baby

A teacher at St. Louis School in Batesville, Kyle Jolly receives a check to help with the health expenses for his first child, Landon. Students at St. Louis School raised the money, which included a donation from one girl who emptied her piggy bank. The check was presented to Jolly by St. Louis students, from left, Calvin Shenk, Jack Tonges, Sarah Meer, Abby Roell and Molly Weigel. (Submitted photo)

A teacher at St. Louis School in Batesville, Kyle Jolly receives a check to help with the health expenses for his first child, Landon. Students at St. Louis School raised the money, which included a donation from one girl who emptied her piggy bank. The check was presented to Jolly by St. Louis students, from left, Calvin Shenk, Jack Tonges, Sarah Meer, Abby Roell and Molly Weigel. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

There are moments when teachers learn just how special their students are.

For Kyle Jolly, that understanding came in the midst of a difficult time for him and his wife, Kimberly, shortly after the birth of their first child, Landon.

When their son was born on July 22, 2011, it was soon determined that he would require surgery on his right hand, where some of his fingers had grown fused together.

Even more of concern was that he had a very severe club foot on his right leg, and he was born without one of the main bones of his right leg. So doctors have determined that it will be best to amputate Landon’s right leg at the knee and fit him with a prosthetic limb—a process that will begin this spring.

So at times, it’s been overwhelming for Kimberly and Kyle, who teaches physical education and third-grade math at St. Louis School in Batesville. There have been concerns about paying for the surgeries that Landon needs—concerns that family and friends have tried to help with, including the “family” of St. Louis School.

“A couple of teachers came to me at the beginning of the school year and asked if the kids could bring in some of their loose change to help Landon,” Kyle, 29, recalls. “I’m thinking in the back of my mind, ‘This is nice. They’ll collect a couple hundred dollars, and this will be a way for the kids to feel a part of it.’ ”

Yet, Kyle’s view changed later when St. Louis School principal Chad Moeller told him that the students had raised more money than anyone had expected.

“He also said they wanted to make a presentation the next week with the whole school coming together,” Kyle says. “I’m still shocked by what they did. They gave me more than $1,500.

“One of the teachers told me later that one girl came in with a bag of money that was filled with bills and coins. The teacher said, ‘That’s a lot of money. Do your parents know you brought this in?’ The girl said, ‘Yes. I emptied my piggy bank and told my mom what it was for. And my mom said it was the best decision I could make.’ ”

Months have passed since Kyle first heard that story, but he still gets emotional when he tells it.

“When I heard that someone had emptied their piggy bank for my little boy, I was overwhelmed,” he says. “What everyone felt and did for me and my little boy showed the kind of families, the kind of kids and the kind of community we have at our school. It’s really amazing.” †

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