CAPE CORAL, Fla.- We first brought you Gavin Lawrey's story last month alongside our partners at the News-Press. He is a vibrant 6-year-old who suffers from Mitochondrial Disease, causing seizures and leaving him with little energy and his parents with massive medical bills.
But since Gavin's story ran last month, the community has opened its hearts and wallets to the family, donating thousands of dollars to Gavin's medical trust fund.
Today, his school family showed him just how much he means to them, with a walk-a-thon just for him.
The school raised $2,800 today. Students could get a 'no uniform' pass for a $2 donation as part of the fundraiser.
A few teachers came up with the idea as a way to help Gavin's family, after they learned more about his story.
Students who barely know Gavin pitched in as well. 10-year-old Marsha McDade said, "I think if one dollar, even two dollars counts, we can do the best we can. We had a yard sale, me and my friend, and we had a lemonade stand and all the money we had...I heard this was going on...so I decided to give it all to him and I also had my leftover birthday money. He needs it more than I do." She donated $45.
Teacher Tiffany Moore says, "a lot of the children wanted to help, they were excited about it. Gavin's part of our school and family and they were excited to see they could help someone here. As a teacher personally, it makes me feel proud that we have so many who are willing to help and give to a good cause."
Gavin's mom Brandi Lawrey says she was overwhelmed by the community support after Gavin's story. "I wasn't prepared in any way, shape or form for the aftermath of the story. I didn't know there was going to be an aftermath to the story and boy was I wrong. It was 57 letters the first day, then 53 letters the second day and some of them were $5 donations and some were $5000 donations."
She says, "the way that everyone has come out of the woodwork to help has just been so overwhelming and we've been so thankful and quiet about it because I don't know what to say or how to say it. When things this big and of this magnitude happen, just simply saying thank you isn't enough and there's no way you can find words big enough to show your appreciation for people who are doing such big and amazing life changing things for your family, so I find myself speechless."
She says the walk-a-thon was an "incredible" day, and the teachers and staff made sure they had everything taken care of for the big day.
Brandi says many teachers at the school didn't know what the family's daily life was like, until the story came out. "We have tragic moments but we don't have a tragic life. I don't seem happy, I truly am happy and it's moments like today that make me happy. People have been brought into our life that make me happy and remind me that no matter what is going on in my life, I have so much to be thankful for and so much to be happy about."
She says all the students say hi to Gavin in the hallways, even if they don't know him. "The kids, they love Gavin, they always have. And since the article, they love him more. It melts my heart every time someone says hi to him because I love that they all love him so much, because they do, they love him."
She says Gavin knew the walk was for him today, and his spirit and attitude motivate them on the long road ahead.
She says saying thank you doesn't seem like enough. "Just thank you to everybody for everything that they've done in any way, big or small, and please know that everything matters and nothing you've done has been small or unappreciated, and please stop saying it isn't enough..because everything is enough."
Brandi says they've collected more than $55,000 in donations since Gavin's story ran. She says people have also come forward wanting to help them get a new home, because they cannot afford their current mortgage.
If you'd like to help Gavin's family, checks can be made out to Gavin and sent to 147 SE 19th Lane, Cape Coral, Fl. 33990.
You can also learn more about Gavin here: http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013304170030