Ed Pratt: How anonymous donor made 10-year-old Baker girl’s wish come true _lowres


Sometimes there is good news, and sometimes there is great news. This falls under the latter.

Ten-year-old Katelyn Roche fell on the floor in her house last week, overwhelmed by happiness and surprise by what her grandmother was showing her. It was a check an anonymous benefactor had sent her to cover the cost of a computer and a printer she so sorely needed.

“I was so excited for her. I knew she was going to be excited,” her grandmother Judy Roche said.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column about Katelyn, the Baker School District’s “Elementary Student of the Year.” Katelyn proved to be a tough, straightforward girl who openly talked about the problems she’d had when her mother, stuck in a bad marriage, left her for a couple years.

The overall theme of the column was that you never know the emotional baggage students bring with them to the classroom.

Katelyn’s mother, Michelle Anderson, returned two years ago. Both she and Katelyn said it was a struggle to totally reunite. Katelyn, who is far more mature than her 10 years, was direct in her comments about challenges she faced when her mother was gone.

As her grandfather says, Katelyn is a straight shooter. “She’ll tell you how the cow ate his cabbage,” Robert Roche said.

In the column, Katelyn also talked about how she did not have a computer and that she counted on using her mother’s smartphone and the kindness of others to find information that she needed to complete her homework and “my papers.”

Katelyn’s plight touched a lot of people. At least a half dozen people emailed me saying they wanted to help her get a computer.

Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, Katelyn, along with her grandfather and grandmother, headed to a local store, where she got a computer and a printer courtesy of a Louisiana man who asked not to be identified.

“I picked both of them out myself,” Katelyn said proudly.

“I never expected there would be people who would do something like this. I want to thank them for showing me so much kindness,” she said.

Katelyn said she will not set up a Facebook page or email just yet. “I’m not into all of that, and somebody could hack into my computer and get my information. I don’t need that,” she said, adding she just wants to write and play some Disney games.

Robert Roche said he and his wife are not usually the type to accept gifts from people. “But for Katelyn, we were willing to accept this,” he said. “We are surprised that there are people who would do something like this.”

Now, Katelyn said, “I won’t have to write my reports in long hand and then go to school early and start typing them on the computer there. I can type pretty fast, though,” she said.

“Now I can get everything done right here,” she smiled.

That’s really good news.

Another update: This is a shout-out to my former Southern University journalism professor, Lucien Salvant. I wrote about him several months ago. I was so lucky to have him in my life.

He, my classmate and friend Cleo Allen, and I had lunch recently. He thanked me profusely for the column that pointed out how he boldly cut through my bluster and helped me to get better, in spite of myself. He told us how proud he was of us.

Heck, I thanked him for making me a decent journalist. I respect him because he knowingly risked and lost his job as my professor because he believed in doing what was right.

If Salvant was leading us in the coverage of the presidential race, he would have demanded that we get real answers to our questions from all of the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, but especially Donald Trump.

The candidates and their handlers would have complained to our higher-ups, and Salvant would have just smiled and sent us back with tougher questions.

It was great seeing him again.

Edward Pratt, a south Louisiana freelance writer, can be reached at epratt1972@yahoo.com.