There’s no denying the effect a loving school bus driver can have on his community. Look no further than Gary Kelmer of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Fondly known as “Mr. Gary,” he has had such a positive impact on the students he has picked up from school each day for more than 26 years that the community rallied in a matter of days to raise enough money to send the die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and his wife to the Super Bowl.
The 66-year-old’s love for the Eagles began during childhood. He even attended the 1960 NFL Championship (Super Bowl I wasn’t played until 1967) at Franklin Field with his father when the Eagles beat the Green Bay Packers 17-13 to capture their first league title.
Knowing Kelmer’s affection for the team, which extends to leading passengers in the Eagles’ fight song the Friday before every game, Mount Laurel resident, Amy Smith, stepped up. She’s the mother of two children Kelmer currently drives home each day who started a GoFundMe page to get everyone’s favorite driver to the big game.
“We are so blessed to have such a wonderful bus driver… one who gets our kids safely, plays the “coolest” music, according to my kids, hands out Air Heads on Fridays, and lets my crazy 4 year old on the bus to talk on the speaker,” Smith wrote. “Mr. Gary is also known for the Fishing Derby he puts on every year for children!
“The morning after the Eagles won the NFC, I went to congratulate Mr. Gary on the bus and he was literally crying out of excitement and gave me the biggest hug.”
Within five days of launching the fundraising page, more than 100 people donated $5,097, which was enough for not only Super Bowl tickets, but airfare to Minneapolis, hotel accommodations and customized jerseys for Kelmer and his wife.
About 50 people, including many former students, surprised Kelmer with the gift on Monday at the last stop on his route.
According to the Burlington County Times, words were hard to come by at first.
“Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!” he said. “I don’t know what to say. This is a special dream come true. I’m ecstatic.”
How nice is this. Mount Laurel parents who love their kids’ school bus driver so much, they raised thousands to send the big @Eagles fan to the Super Bowl. Gary Kelmer of Evesham has been driving school bus in Mount Laurel for 27yrs&to many families he IS family. @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/UdYuquSmhC
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) January 30, 2018
Regardless of the outcome of the game, Kelmer will certainly come back with special Super Bowl memories, and lasting stories for not only today’s passengers, but those who board his bus down the road.