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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

CVSD bus drivers surprise co-worker with Hawaii trip

Teri Perry wipes a tear after being told by friend Jenelle Sprague that fellow bus drivers raised enough money to send her on a trip to Hawaii. (Colin Mulvany)

Bus drivers in the Central Valley School District sure know how to keep a secret.

During a special meeting Dec. 13, transportation supervisor Gene Marsh had driver Teri Perry come to the front of the room.

Her short hair was dyed green, with a blue 12 on the crown for the Seattle Seahawks. Shaved into the side of her head were the numbers of her favorite players and a “PC” for coach Pete Carroll.

Perry was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Jan. 1.

“I’m impressed the way you handle everything,” Marsh told her. He said she has maintained a good attitude and is an excellent role model.

Jenelle Sprague, a co-worker and friend, slipped a coconut bra over Perry’s sweatshirt. She then put a lei around her neck and a grass skirt around her waist.

Two of Perry’s grandchildren then entered the room holding balloons shaped like hula dancers.

“We have kept a huge secret from Teri,” Sprague told the room, which now included Perry’s best friend, her daughter and her husband, Don. “We would like you to go to Hawaii.”

The bus drivers donated their own money for Perry and her husband to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii and gave her a check for $3,616 for spending money. The total amount raised was $6,142; it took them three months to raise it.

“I can’t even find the words right now,” Perry said as she wiped tears from her eyes.

Perry’s daughter, Sheri Ballao, her husband and grandchildren were in on the secret, too.

“Thank you so much for doing this for my mom,” Ballao told the drivers.

“I knew something was up,” Perry said. Although she knew they were going to show support for her, she didn’t expect a trip to Hawaii. “This is not what was supposed to happen.”

She said she is feeling good right now after nearly a year of treatment. She credits her faith and a positive attitude for helping her get through this difficult time.

“There’s a lot of positive energy around me,” she said.