A Birthday Surprise Visit From Daniel Gill, Sam Sann, and Brian Bartolomei.
Wednesday September 9th 2015.
My 4:40 am alarm sounded (I never set my alarm on an odd number.) Time to wake up for my early morning coffee workout routine. I grabbed my computer and my vanilla almond milk coffee, and headed upstairs to clip into my spin shoes to start checking e-mails while peddling away. Pretty standard morning. Early morning school e-mails, checking people’s Tweets, thinking back to yesterday’s 5 am morning bike and ride Voxer business call about October’s upcoming #EduNinjaChallenge
I was warming up for today - a good day with already lots to do. I showered quickly, threw on my teacher’s clothes - Simple plain earth tones today- an army green sleeveless top paired with a long tan pencil skirt, no heels for a few more months since I’m only 4 months into my torn Achilles rehab so tan pillowy soft Clarks flip flops for me. I pulled my hair back in a long braid and headband and was ready to head to school.
The morning flew by: reading, writing, math. As math was waning and lunch was waxing I heard our principal start making an announcement on the loud speaker as the phone was simultaneously ringing. It was our librarian. She told me to get right to the library when the bell rings because it’s there’s something important she needed help with. The bell rang and students started heading to lunch as I quickly started heading to the library. It was lightly drizzling outside so another 4th grade teacher stopped me and said the students would be heading to the gym to eat inside instead of outside today.
As I got to the library Stacey, the librarian, good friend, all around awesome person started talking about her casted arm and her injury prognosis and asking about my torn Achilles. In an instant she said we quickly needed to get to the gym. Without knowing why we got up and dashed over to the gym where it was completely quiet.
I squeezed in the very front last seat left and was waiting to see why we were here. I looked up to our principal waiting to hear directions and then a voice came from behind the stage like it was going to be an assembly of some kind that I had obviously missed on the school calendar. The unrecognizable voice continued, “We’re here to celebrate somebody’s birthday.” Hmm that’s right I thought. My birthday is tomorrow… is this going to be about me? It was then I started looking around when I saw my boyfriend step onto the stage. How did I not recognize his voice even out of context here at school.
I was confused, embarrassed, stunned. He called me up to the stage and continued, “Tomorrow is Miss Burdis’ birthday and I’ve invited some people to help sing Happy Birthday to her.” I glanced stage left and didn’t see anyone. Then my favorite ninjas appeared. Sam Sann and Daniel Gill took the stage with the biggest smiles on their faces mirroring my happiness. The Opera singer Daniel, Sam the Survivor, and my amazingly clever and awesome boyfriend were on stage with the auditorium filled with 4th and 5th graders, teachers, and ninjas who were all singing Happy Birthday. The students were shocked, and couldn’t contain their excitement. It really was a gift having so many special people in my life share that moment together.
Sam and Daniel went on to share some amazing stories of heartache, hard work, inspiration, positivity, overcoming your fears and not stopping when you say you aren't initially good at something - Instead reframing the statement and say, “I’m not good at this yet. I just need some help." Sam’s message was about asking for help when you need it.
“Just because you aren’t good at one subject in school it doesn’t mean that you aren’t good at it it just means you need to practice a little more so obstacle courses apply to school, to life, anything you want to put yourself through. Any of you guys having a weak subject you aren’t liking? Guess what? Get more help. It’s simple. I didn’t speak English when I first got here and look at me. I’m standing in front of you.”
The students were in awe and respect of the ninjas standing before them. Some had never seen or heard of Daniel or Sam before today. A few days later one boy in my class asked if when I was little if I always wanted to be like Sam. The boy went on to say that he wants to be like Sam when he grows up and went home and has been training everyday with the help of his mother and father. Another boy wrote a thank you letter to Sam saying he either wanted to be Sam when he grows up or the President of the United States. No matter what these students choose to become I know that Daniel and Sam inspired many students that day to try their hardest and not give up in the face of adversity. Thanks to everyone who made my 40th birthday very special and one that I'll never forget.