As a school counselor, Lora McLamb enjoys guiding students at Union Intermediate School. She’s only been at the school for three months, but it already feels like family.
“I always heard that wherever you work, it’s a family,” McLamb said. “This is the first school that I’ve been at where it feels like a family. If something happens to one of the staff members here, everybody pulls together.”
After the school learned about her son, Logan, she felt the love even more. He was born with a congenital heart defect and underwent open-heart surgery. He’s now 19 months old. McLamb was aware of the problem during pregnancy after an ultrasound procedure. Her husband is Richard McLamb and for the couple, it’s a situation they have to take day by day.
“On the outside, he’s fine,” she said. “But on the inside, it’s almost like a ticking time bomb. When is it going to go off? I look at his crib at night to make sure that he’s still breathing.”
After receiving several interventional catherization procedures, the family is now preparing to take a trip to California for another medical procedure. To help them fly across the country, UIS took action. Sarah Millen, a fifth-grader, made more than 1,500 cookies, which came from her oven at home. Some of them included Snickers Cookies, chocolate chip, pumpkin and chocolate mint.
“When I heard that her son had heart problems, I knew that they were going to have to take a flight to California to help her son,” Millen said. “My goal is to make enough money for airplane tickets.”
Tanya Freeman, health and physical education teacher, was also involved in the effort through the Jump Rope for Heart program. She wanted to honor McLamb and her son by bringing awareness to heart health to students. Shortly after, Millen wanted to do more and got the thumbs up from Principal Jim Workman to sell cookies. Freeman applauded the generosity of the students.
“We’re a small school with a big heart,” Freeman said. “When we see a need, we step up and go above and beyond to make sure that our family is taken care of.”
“This is our family when we’re here,” Freeman said. “We spend a lot of time here, every single day with our students and teachers. When we get here, it’s important that we interact with each other as family and loved ones.”
Media specialist Caren Long is selling T-shirts and leading other efforts such as taco bar and breakfast for teachers.
Along with fundraising, prayers were also made for the family. Alana Lockwood-Garcia, a fifth-grade student, stood in front of Garland Baptist and made prayers for the family. Lockwood-Garcia’s sister was born with organs on the outside of her body and underwent surgeries and transplants.
“I was thinking that it’s really bad that someone has to go through it, if it’s your sister, your child, your grandchild,” Lockwood-Garcia said. “It’s really hard.”
McLamb is overwhelmed and humbled by the school’s generosity.
“They have really pulled together and been supportive,” McLamb said. “I was really proud of the kids for coming together and doing this.”
She also expressed how she’s grateful for the attention, when there’s a lot of other kids with more severe problems.
“Just for them to put away their differences and arguments within the day and come together and do something for somebody else, that’s what the world is about,” McLamb said. “I wish adults could do the same.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.