Oakfield teacher recognized for donating kidney to student
Hand in hand, Jodi Schmidt and Natasha Fuller walked to the front of the crowd Thursday afternoon.
"It's fantastic to be back," Schmidt said.
Oakfield Elementary School is the place that launched the teacher and student on a journey to be kidney friends forever.
"I knew this is something I wanted to do," Schmidt said.
"She cares about kids and she wants them to be healthy so she helps them," Fuller said.
Failing kidneys kept 8-year-old Natasha in the hospital a lot, but her fighting spirit inspired Schmidt nine months ago to give of herself by donating an organ.
After transplant surgery in May and some recovery time, the reward is a dream come true.
"I'm feeling good," Fuller said. "I got to run for the first time. I went swimming for the first time. I jumped and went hopping for the first time."
"She'll be in school now everyday and she gets her friends, sleepovers and chocolate," said Schmidt. "Life is good."
A kidney friends forever banner will hang inside the school as a thank you to Schmidt. She and Natasha will see each other often this year as their classrooms are right next door.
Schmidt, a third grade teacher, said support from the community made this second chance possible for Natasha, who's eager to start the second grade.
But Schmidt said the takeaway is a lesson students won't find in any textbook.
"My students have a different awareness of kindness and giving and it doesn't have to be an organ, but just for the greater good of humanity," she said.