Full Circle; Group of caring children plan to honor special Bible teacher - car wash this Saturday at Burger King in Mt. Juliet
It's something she was meant to do. She has a master's degree in social work and a degree in school counseling. Laurie Drummond loves children and she's positively affected the lives of countless school children during her 10 year stint as counselor at W.A. Wright Elementary School and during her Backyard Bible School classes she's helped spearhead the past four years. Now, the children she's helped shape are paying it forward and turning all that love and attention around.
Drummond, 55, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on May 23. Several of her Bible study students had planned a surprise fundraiser this past Saturday to raise money to give to the Tennessee School for the Blind in honor of Laurie.
However, after weeks of drought, the skies opened up on Saturday and the car wash had to be cancelled. However, these special kids are quick to say the fundraiser is to be rescheduled and they will shout the new date of Saturday, July 21 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. off the rooftops in Mt. Juliet so people will flock to Burger King and exchange a few dollars for a clean car. And, to show a very special person they love and honor her and are thinking of her constantly.
Kaitlyn and Kyle Osborne are twins and have been taught at Backyard Bible School by Laurie and others for several years. Kaitlyn was the one who decided to plan a car wash in honor of Laurie.
"I think she is just so nice and a wonderful person," said Kaitlyn, 15. "Through the years she's helped us in many ways. She's like a second mom. I saw her yesterday at dinner and she said her blood counts are up so much that she can go to a wedding out of town. I am so happy to hear that."
Kaitlyn said she wanted to plan an event in Laurie's honor because she "wanted to let her know everyone loves her and are praying for her."
Kaitlyn and Kyle's mother, Melissa, sings praises for Laurie, who for a year set up a Bible study class in their front yard in Mt. Juliet.
"If they [her twins] have any problems at all they go to Mrs. Drummond," said Melissa. "They love her and wanted to do something nice for her."
Melissa said Kaitlyn came to her after she heard of Laurie's diagnosis and asked "Why does God make good people sick?"
"I told her that God always has a reason and sometimes we just don't know what that is," said Melissa. "So they came up with 'Washing for Wishes' and thought that any money raised should go to a worthy organization."
That's when they came up with Tennessee School for the Blind in Donelson, Tenn.
"I think Laurie is just wonderful," added Melissa. "There are no words to describe what a great person she is."
The connection to the School for the Blind is Bobby Bass. He's been associated with the school for years and is the treasurer for non-profit 501c3 Friends of Tennessee School for the Blind. Bass has driven the bus for Laurie's group of Bible School kids since the beginning and is at every Bible study meeting. He loves them as much as Laurie and when he heard they wanted to give money to an organization in Laurie's honor, he knew that the Tennessee School for the Blind was in need of money to help restore two bowling alleys there.
"The kids came to me and asked me what they could do," he said.
He explained that they were trying to raise money for the alleys that will take about $62,000 to restore. Laurie will get a special certificate denoting that the donation was in her honor.
"Laurie is one of the kindest, gentlest, concerned persons I know," he said. "She loves to help these kids. She has a big heart and is a wonderful person."
Laurie is very humble about it all and when she heard this group of kids were planning to honor her, she was overcome with emotion. She said her relationship with them is a God thing and came about naturally when she attended Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in 2009. At that time they had a large Vacation Bible School and decided on the concept of a Backyard Kids Club of sorts.
"We wanted smaller groups and a home outreach," she said.
At that time she lived on Page Drive.
"God had blessed us with a great yard for such a thing," she said. "I had been at W.A. Wright for about six years at that time and I have a heart for the kids. I've worked closely with them and realized some had needs and struggles. So we invited this group of kids as well as others from the neighborhood."
During the first Backyard Kids Club, the kids came four mornings, but wanted to keep meeting after it ended, so they began to meet in the afternoon several times a month. There they read Bible stories, did skits, crafts and learned verses and had snacks. The group met at the Drummond's home for the first several years, but the family moved to Nashville in 2011 and the group had to find a new place to meet. Friendship Community Church (which meets for worship at Lakeview Elementary School) offered space in Mt. Juliet that they rent and use for their mid-week services, and the location is perfect. The group now meets twice a month on Mondays from 4-6 p.m., and has a Backyard Kids Club week each summer at the home of a Hermitage Hills Baptist Church staff member.
Laurie said her friendship with these children through the years has enriched her life. She is married to Keith and has two grown children.
"It's been wonderful to see the children grow spiritually and take on leadership roles," she said quietly. "We have been a consistent force in their lives and they know we love them. I believe God calls us all to make a difference. God shows us to invest time and love them and it's so much fun to share Christ with them."
For 10 years Laurie was involved with the school system's STARS (Students Taking A Right Stand) program.
Unlike young Kaitlyn, Laurie said she doesn't really ask why she was afflicted with this cancer that is known to be very treatable.
"I've always been so healthy," she said. "This came out of the blue."
She had a pain in her back and a couple trips to the doctor resulted in a chest x-ray where they found a "large mass" in her chest. It ended up being Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma which originates in a person's lymphatic system. She had her second chemotherapy treatment on Tuesday and will have four more, three weeks apart.
"I feel really great though," said Laurie on Monday. "This weekend I had a really long walk with my daughter at Radnor Lake. I have a very strong faith."
She said though she was so grateful about the effort of the kids to honor her, she "was not surprised.
"I'm so proud of them," she said. "It is easy for kids to feel sorry for themselves, but they love to help others."
She been with them to help at Room at the Inn and Walk for Life.
Though she's had to miss this summer's Bible classes, Laurie knows there's still a great team with Stephanie Davis, Laura Murphy and Anna Murphy. Bobby Bass and Jenny Louder still work with the children. She went to the last official Backyard Kids Club and told the kids in person about her diagnosis.
After the kids learned she had cancer, they gathered around her to pray for her and promised to stay in touch until she could come back to the Bible study on a regular basis.
"I just wanted them to hear it from me and for them to see I am okay," she said. " I miss seeing them and look forward to being at the meetings again on a regular basis."
Laurie said she'll take one day at a time.
"I do know God has a plan," she said. "I would not have chosen cancer, but I know He's with me. I don't question, I just ask God to get me through this."
Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 754-6397.
This group picture was taken at a DCA soccer game. Laurie Drummond is pictured in back row second from right and Bobby Bass is back row center. Drummond is surrounded by the children she teaches at Bible class and some of them are organizing a car wash to give money to the Tennessee For the Blind in her honor to support her during her struggle with cancer.