Imagine you were a high school janitor, and you just won a $3.5 million lottery. You'd put down your mop for good and hop a plane to Tahiti, right? Not so for Tyrone Curry who won it five years -- he's still working at the same school as a janitor and coach, and recently even donated some of his winnings to improve the school for the students he cleans up after.
According to a story in the Seattle Times, Curry always knew he'd win the lottery some day. He told people when he did, he was going to help build a "real" track for students at Evergreen Campus high schools in White Center, Washington, that could withstand the elements. Last Friday, the final lines were painted on the new track.
"I wanted to do something for the kids who are here now and for all the future kids," he told the paper.
He donated $40,000, which coupled with a $175,000 grant made the new track a possibility. Incredibly generous, but anyone with enough money can easily enough write a check. It's his hardworking example and refusal to let money rule his life that is most inspiring. Even though he never got the teaching credentials he intended to because of various life circumstances, he's one amazing teacher.
He still lives in the same modest three-bedroom house he lived in before his winnings, and besides a new car, this track was his first real considerable expenditure. He even still works additional jobs as a seating host for Safeco Field and as assistant head usher at Key Arena when he could easily afford the fanciest seats at either.
He credits a poor childhood and a wise mother with keeping him grounded. "She taught us to work for what we got and to work with what we got," he told the paper.
While teachers and books can teach plenty of lessons, it's examples like those set by Curry that are the most important for our children -- and for us all -- to learn. As Curry shows us, we never know where those lessons will come from, but when they do, they are powerful.
Oh, and he's pretty sure he's going to win the lottery again one of these days, and when he does, the school is getting new tennis courts. Let's hope he's right.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Image via Robert S. Donovan/Flickr