DENVER (CBS4) – He’s quite a kid that 10-year-old Quadri Riley. Sometimes he stops by para-professional Brandi Kirkpatrick’s special education classroom at Farrell B. Howell K-8 school in Montbello to help the other children.
He just has a sense of compassion.
“He was always really nice to my students,” said Brandi Kirkpatrick. “So in all honesty, he touched my heart first. Because he was really nice, he was sharing with them and he was helping them in class and so they didn’t have to feel ‘outcasted.’ So it was technically it was him, he was the reason that I did it.”
What she did is really a stunner.
It starts with Quadri’s family. Quadri’s mom is a single mother who has been ill for years. Five years ago Gwen McNair’s kidneys failed. It was the result of toxemia and hypertension brought on by the premature birth of Quadri, now ten. Quadri grew up healthy. Mom’s health went downhill.
The failure of her kidneys meant constant trips for dialysis. She signed up on a donor list, looking for a kidney. But year after year went by and there was nothing to turn Gwen’s life around. It meant missing many things in her children’s childhoods. Quadri and his sister, 17-year-old Quaylen learned she was likely to miss events as she sought her treatments.
That included Quadri’s beloved basketball games. But he was not alone. One of Quadri’s teachers, Megan West, a close co-worker to Brandi Kirkpatrick, took her own initiative to go and see some of Quadri’s games so there’d be someone there rooting for him. But that wasn’t all the teachers at Howell did for him.
One day on the playground Quadri got into a conversation about his mom’s situation, Brandi overheard it and that was when it all clicked for her. “We were sitting there at recess on the park bench and I asked for Quadri’s mom’s number.” Brandi had an offer for Gwen McNair.
“She never heard of my name, she’s never even seen me, she had no clue what I looked like, I said I’m sorry to be so personal but, ‘Do you need a kidney?’ And she said, ‘I’m sorry, what?’”
“So I said look I’ll give you a kidney if you want it … and she’s like, ‘Who is this?’”
“She could have given it to anyone but she chose me.” Said Gwen. “And I call her my angel and she says I’m not an angel.”
Gwen didn’t even believe it.
“She basically responded with, I didn’t think you were serious and I’ve been waiting five years, and we could not have been more of a dead on match,” said Brandi.
The testing meant the transplant could go through. In August, Brandi gave up a kidney and doctors implanted it into Gwen. Gwen’s recovery has been slow at times and she’s still on anti-rejection drugs, which are costly for a woman not making piles of money in her job at the Broncos Boys and Girls Club in Montbello. It’s been tough at times paying the rent.
This season Quadri and his sister will get toys from the Care for Colorado toy drive with bins at local King Soopers. So far the drive is running thousands of toys behind so it’s questionable what they might get. But Quadri is a kid like any other – who wants an X Box.
His sister hopes for a laptop to be like the other girls her age in studying to improve their lives. But the reality of the cost of those items is likely to make that a long reach.
The kids realize what’s really important and they couldn’t be happier with the gift they’ve already received from Brandi Kirkpatrick.
Quaylen said she’d do the same thing.
“Yeah I would because I like helping out people. So that would be my first thing. Quadri told us, “She can play with us now… she can run now.” That puts a Christmas smile on the face of a boy who’s own kindness led to a young instructor’s life-sustaining gift and a holiday story we may never forget.
Merry Christmas Quadri, Merry Christmas.