By Andrea Cordle
Occasionally, someone inspirational comes into our lives.
For 11-year-old Drew Hutchinson, that person was his Galloway Ridge Intermediate School teacher Erica Guess.
In August of 2013, Guess was ready to start class at the school. She had just moved to the Columbus area and landed her dream job as a teacher. Shortly before the school year began, Guess’s life changed. Doctors found a baseball-sized tumor in her brain. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a highly malignant type of tumor.
Guess had a battle to fight and could not teach her class, but she made sure she stayed in touch with her students.
Guess had three brain surgeries last year and one this year. She said the survival rate for this type of brain cancer is not very high.
“I am a firm believer in God,” said Guess. “He chose me to go through this so that I could inspire people.”
When Drew heard about his teacher, he knew he had to show her support. Since August of 2013, he has been planning and researching ways to help. Eventually Drew met his teacher and they became great friends. Guess was able to come back to the classroom near the end of school year.
“I had a lot of fun with her,” said Drew. “She is interesting.”
Since May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month, Drew decided to launch his campaign. He set up a Go Fund Me page with a goal of raising $300 that will be donated to The Preston Robert Tisch Tumor Center at Duke. Through Drew’s research, he found that Duke University was conducting clinical trials that focused specifically on glioblastoma. He said that once he reached his goal, he was going to shave his head.
Drew’s page launched at the beginning of May. After just one week, he had already raised $800. He has been growing his hair for about two years. Once shaved, Drew will donate his hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which works with organizations to provide free wigs to women with cancer.
Drew’s mother, Traylene, said her son has had to endure some hardship for growing his hair so long. He has been teased by some saying he “looks like a girl.”
“It taught him a lot on how to be different,” said Traylene.
According to Traylene, her son came up with this fundraiser all on his own. It was not her idea. It was not part of a class project. He just wanted to help not only his teacher, but also others with cancer.
“He has a heart of gold,” said Traylene with tears in her eyes. “My heart is just overflowing with joy.”
Galloway Ridge Principal Mimi Padovan said the school is behind Drew. Many staff members have donated to the cause.
“Drew is just an amazing young man who emphasizes with what she (Guess) is going through,” said Padovan. “I am so impressed with him as a student.”
Drew said he wants to do all he can to help others in need.
“I want them to know there is someone who cares for them,” said Drew. “No matter what.”
When Guess found out what Drew was doing, she said it brought her to tears.
“How do I thank him?” she said. “I am so appreciative. He reminded me why I am going through this.”
Guess is still on leave from teaching. She said she is looking into becoming a teacher’s aid until she is well enough to go back full-time. Guess said teaching is her passion, but she learns a lot from her students too.
“Drew is teaching me what it is to be a good human being,” said Guess.
Padovan said Drew would be recognized by the school at the end of the year awards assembly.
Drew will keep his fundraiser going until people stop donating.
To donate, go to http://gofundme.com/rf76ebus.