It's summertime and teachers are getting their much-deserved break, which means it might be a while before we hear stories about wonderful teachers doing wonderful things for their students. But Helma Wardenaar, a teacher in Chicago, had one more amazing act of kindness to get in before the long break.
The fourth grade students at her school were going on an overnight camping and hiking trip, but 10-year-old Maggie Vazquez wasn't going to be able to make it because she has cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around. There was just no way she'd be able to traverse the grounds of the camp, not even in a wheelchair.
Her teacher wasn't going to let Maggie miss the trip. She says, "It wasn’t a question of if she could go, it's how can she go. It was really too long and far and there were gonna be creeks, fallen over trees and low-hanging branches. This student is part of our community and we love her and want to do anything we can for her. We needed to find a way."
So Wardenaar thought of every possible way to make it happen. She even considered getting a pony to ride Maggie over the terrain. But finally, she learned about a special child carrier called a Freeloader that would enable Wardenaar to carry Maggie on her back.
Wardenaar says Maggie "was so happy, she was like, 'Ms. Helma, I'm going on the trip too! I'm going to see some butterflies!' She was so happy when she knew she was going."
Wardenaar carried the 65-pound child on her back for the two-day trip. She admits that at times it was hard carrying her, but she didn't want to give up.
Maggie's mother, Michelle, said in a Facebook post, "Making a difference in someone's life. A super big thanks to Ms. Helma Wardenaar for her passion and dedication to all her students."