RACINE — Last fall, Southern teacher Alan Crisp asked his colleague Scott Wolfe to paint his truck, a 1990 Dodge Dakota. The truck had several dents, dings, and rusty spots along with a peeling clear coat, so the job was going to take some time, according to Wolfe. Wolfe told Crisp they could paint it this coming summer when school was out.
Crisp had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) about the same time as the onset of the COVID pandemic and has been in declining health over the past two years. Wolfe told a couple co-workers about doing the work this summer, and that’s when school secretary Vicki Northup and Wolfe conjured up an idea, then Northup went to work.
Northup worked her magic in what she dubs the “Paying it Forward” campaign, and secretly raised enough money from teachers and staff at school to pay for the materials. Or so they thought. Last fall, Wolfe had priced materials to give Crisp an idea of the costs. But with the supply crisis and inflation, the price had nearly doubled. A couple employees at school stepped it up even more, and Pomeroy Auto Parts pitched in as well to make up the difference.
While a lot of work was going on in the background, Crisp was not aware; not even the least bit suspicious. Wolfe, the special education director at Southern, called an ‘emergency’ special education meeting, which also included other donors outside the special education department in attendance.
“Some of the teachers were wondering what the meeting was about,” recalled Northup. “I just told them it had to deal with some paperwork we had to get done for the state.”
Wolfe began the meeting as if it were really a legitimate meeting, then shifted gears to surprise Crisp as the “Man of the Hour” and revealed the secret plot. Several happy tears were shed by just about everyone. Mr. Crisp was legitimately surprised and overwhelmed with the kindness.
“The teachers and staff wanted to “Pay it Forward” and do something nice for Alan,” said Northup. “Everyone respects him and admires his resilience. Alan is here at work everyday, doing what he loves to do- teaching kids.”
Crisp noted, while holding back tears, “I love my Southern family. I cannot thank you enough. Thank You!”
Wolfe’s part of the bargain was to do all the work on the truck and paint it free of charge. “I have taught with Mr. Crisp for 21 years now and I wanted to do something nice for him. The Southern staff made it even more special. They stepped it up in a big way and I also want to thank Pomeroy Auto Parts as well.”
Submitted by Scott Wolfe.