58-year-old Tammy Waddell spent 30 years working in Forsyth County Schools in Georgia before passing away on June 9, 2018.
The last wish of an educator was to have backpacks filled with school supplies present at her funeral and her selfless wish attracted the attention of thousands. 58-year-old Tammy Waddell passed away on June 9, 2018, after battling stomach cancer for years. But even in her death, she insisted on doing something special for her students who might be in need. Instead of her flowers, her obituary suggested donations to be made in her memory to Project Connect, which is a local program that provides backpacks to needy students.
On June 13, Waddell's funeral services were held and a number of teachers lined up at the ceremony carrying backpacks containing school supplies. The community had come together in Wadell's death for a good cause and fellow educator Brad Johnson, who also happens to be her cousin, shared pictures of the heartwarming incident. Uploading pictures of the heartfelt funeral day, her cousin Johnson took to Twitter and wrote: My cousin’s final request at her funeral was Backpacks full of supplies for needy students instead of flowers. A teacher to the end. He added: She had about 100 teachers as honorary pallbearers who carried the backpacks out and back to their schools. It was heartwarming.
What some of the back packs were filled with... pic.twitter.com/rUWpheecEk— 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧𝐬𝐨𝐧 (@DrBradJohnson) June 26, 2018
The comment section of this post was flooded with responses by people who were touched by Waddell's humble request. User @emmajo15 wrote: What a beautiful person your cousin was, this is truly inspiring. I'm so sorry for your loss, it seems the world really lost a caring and compassionate person, just at the time we need them most. Another user @Clara shared: We love teachers. May your cousin rest in peace. Thank her family for her service. A third @Johnnyrobertha2 expressed: Dr.johnson,ur cousin touch alot of hearts across the world we need too carry on her wish across America every year ppl do sum thing for ur community I am donating 10 backpacks in Olney,tx before school starts.
Many have asked how to donate, but really we would like people to donate to the schools in their area. Many in our family are educators and we know the struggles of all districts. Spread the love locally!— 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧𝐬𝐨𝐧 (@DrBradJohnson) June 26, 2018
User Michelle Schoeneberger, Ed.D. explained: Thank you for sharing! Your cousin's thoughtfulness is inspiring and your willingness to share this amazing gesture will spread the greatness even further! Speaking to Good Morning America Johnson said, "She was very inspirational in me achieving all that I have. She was as quick to give a hug as she was quick to give supplies to students who needed it." Waddell had spent 30 years working in Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. Her work was recognized in 2003, when she was named as the county elementary school teacher of the year. Even her son Kevin Waddell, who was 35 at the time, told GMA that their family was not at all shocked to learn that school backpacks were one of his mother's final requests. "Part of what I loved about my mom was the passion she had as a teacher. It's one of the inspirations that led me to the profession," he said.
Honorary pallbearers... Teachers who had taught with her through the years... pic.twitter.com/CyB2pBbBNy— 𝐁𝐫𝐚𝐝 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧𝐬𝐨𝐧 (@DrBradJohnson) June 19, 2018
Unsurprisingly, her story touched many across Britain and beyond and Waddell said that people began offering to send school supplies to honor the memory of the amazing late educator. "She lived life by loving others and she was never worried about attention … she was just focused on the love," Waddell added. "The message she would try and deliver at this point is to donate to your local schools. It doesn't have to be here specifically." Waddell is survived by her husband and two sons, Kevin and B.J. Waddell, and four grandchildren.