As we lead up to this year’s Spin for Kid’s we wanted to share the stories of our riders and why they ride for Kate’s Club. Tonight Misty shares her story in her own words. Misty Alexander is a Kate’s Club Ambassador and super buddy. This year marks her fourth year riding for the Kate’s Club team.
I learned long before volunteering with Kate’s Club about children and grief. My 3rd year teaching, a very special student of mine tragically lost her father. By year 3 I had learned how to guide a reading group, teach a math algorithm and hold a parent conference. What I didn’t know was the part of teaching that blindsides you when you least expect it. I wasn’t prepared for the part of teaching that would teach me.
Lauren Newell did just that – at 6 years old. I didn’t know what to do for Lauren other than buy her a Beanie Baby! (Much like grown ups seem to only know to bake casseroles and send flowers.) I also went to the funeral. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to. Did teachers even do that? Was it too personal? Oh…the things you don’t learn in college.
At the funeral I watched everyone standing solemnly, her mother in shock going through the motions, her grandparents stepping in to carry some of her weight. Nobody really knew what to say. Except Lauren. Lauren came running through the pews to me with her new Beanie Baby. She told me she picked out a dress to match its dress, hugged me tight and ran off like nothing was out of the ordinary. I knew in that moment that Lauren would need time and comfort, security to be herself. I knew that in that particular moment, she needed most to be a child. In her own time she would talk if she needed to, and she did. Lauren is an adult now and has a beautiful little girl of her own. I still have the thank you note she wrote me. I told her someone probably made her write it – the obligatory thank you note – but it didn’t matter to me. I’ve held it close to my heart for more years than I can count.
I am so very proud of the person she has grown up to be and I thank her for being one of MY first teachers. I’ll be riding 100 miles for Lauren, and MANY other children grieving the loss of a parent or a sibling.
To join the Kate’s Club team or make a donation to a Kate’s Club rider visit www.spinforkids.org.