Students Raise Over $13,000 To Help A Substitute Teacher Pay For His Wife's Surgery

October 16, 2017

Walter Erickson, 80, is a retired teacher who's been a substitute in a Minneapolis school district since 1991. Almost every day of the school year, Erickson is at Champlin Park High School.

Last week, his students gave back to him in a way he never would have expected.

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Mr. Erickson / GoFundMe

"He's just impacted so many of our lives in amazing ways," Katie Blodgett, a senior at Champlin Park, told CBS Minnesota. "He's the kind of substitute teacher where he connects with us more on a personal level and he obviously loves what he does and that makes it more encouraging for us to learn."

Mr. Erickson has been saving up to pay for his wife to get cataract surgery and some much needed dental work.

"When we found out the surgery may not be covered, we just wanted to help out," Breiter said.

She, Blodgett and another friend started a GoFundMe page. Donations, mostly small amounts from students, came pouring in.

They wrote on GoFundMe:

"Kelsey and Hailey are trying to raise money for a staff member of Champlin Park High School. Mr. Erickson and his wife have been struggling with money for many years. Mr. Erickson still substitutes for teachers most days as he can not retire due to paying for his wife's medical bills over many years. September and October can be the hardest months for the two and the money would benefit them in the coming winter months. Mr. Erickson has impacted Champlin Park students for many years and it would be great if students, staff, and community members could give back to him in this way."

The initial goal was $500. In just six days, the girls raised over $13,000.

"When I told my wife about this last Friday, she said, 'Who are these girls? What kind of parents do they have that they could be so caring and compassionate?'" Mr. Erickson said.

Mr. Erickson added that he was "just overwhelmed" by the students' generosity.

"I know my wife will appreciate it very much," he said. "Thanks a lot, really a lot."

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