Local student delivers reverse surprise!

by Mary Helen Darah

If you need to renew your faith in humanity, look no further than Sylvania Whiteford Elementary student Bruce Godlewski. The young man recently delivered baked goods, smiles, and fist bumps on a day that he would be on the receiving end of gifts and kindness…his birthday.
  Two weeks before his birthday, mom Anneke Godlewski asked Bruce to describe what a perfect birthday would look like in his eyes. “He said that he wanted to wake up to a shout out from MOJO in the morning, his favorite radio show, then drive around all day and visit firefighters, SWAT guys, friends and family and give them cookies,” stated Godlewski. “I couldn’t believe he wanted to spend his birthday giving to others, especially after the year we’ve had. As parents, we have been trying to give the gift of experiences and time together instead of things. Bruce lost out on his Christmas gift of going to New York City due to the pandemic, yet he was adamant about wanting to spend his birthday surprising others.”
  The duo made a game plan for their big day. Since homemade cookies might not be well-received during this time of Covid-19, the two went to the store and purchased cookies and cupcakes. Bruce made a list of the places and people he wanted to visit and with the help of mom, mapped out a route. “We woke up early the next day and began our mission,” stated Godlewski. “We went to Sylvania Township Fire Station #1, the Sylvania Township Police Department where we met with Chief Paul Long, the TPD SWAT Team, Oma (Bruce’s great-grandma), his great-great-aunt Helen and numerous other stops spreading reversed ‘birthday surprise.’”

Bruce’s birthday brought many to tears. There were fist bumps, high fives, and shocked faces. Well-needed joy was sprinkled like confetti. Bruce was handed the remote controls to a ladder truck at a fire station to raise the bucket and talking with a police chief was pretty “awesome” in his eyes. However, his favorite stops might be yet another surprise. “I loved seeing Aunt Helen,” said birthday boy Bruce. “She’s not married and doesn’t have any kids. She’s going to be 93 soon! She didn’t know we were coming and was so surprised. She started crying. I also liked visiting Oma (Bruce’s great-grandmother). We haven’t seen her face-to-face in a long time. We could only see her through a window but we got to send cookies in. We also stopped by to see our old neighbor Jim. He nearly knocked his cane over after he finally recognized me.” Bruce’s most memorable visit was with the TPD SWAT Team. “They rolled up in full gear and stopped in the middle of the street for him, then put him in gear like one of their own,” said proud mom Anneke. “We had such a great day. Even guys who I am sure were tired from just returning from a run gave us a tour of the fire station. I spent the day between smiling and trying not to cry.”
  Bruce thinks that his reverse birthday surprise day could become an annual tradition. “I really liked surprising people. The old people we visited were really excited,” said Bruce. “I really liked surprising the frontline workers. They help people every day and don’t get paid a lot to risk their lives. I wanted to show them that we care and surprise them by switching things up.” Those who received Bruce’s reverse surprise of joy, restored faith in the kindness of humanity and the extra-added bonus of baked goods, look forward to seeing what this unique young man will do to celebrate his ninth year.

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