FONTANELLE — Donna Gantz wheeled outside with a group of family members who were in town to visit her where she’s currently living, at Good Samaritan Society Fontanelle, on Friday afternoon. She was greeted by a much larger group of friends wanting to make her day brighter.
The Nodaway Valley transportation department — at the prompting of Todd Lamb, a friend of Gantz — organized a school bus parade for her.
Gantz drove a Nodaway Valley school bus for 16 years, but last fall she became ill and couldn’t any longer. On Friday, all of Nodaway Valley’s buses, before they picked up students at the schools, stopped by, and one by one, said hi to Gantz, who sat in front of Good Samaritan’s front doors.
Leading the bus parade was transportation coordinator Derrick Shaull, who is currently driving Gantz’s route that travels north of Fontanelle to the Canby vicinity.
Shaull started the parade by stopping his bus, getting off it and handing Gantz a bouquet of flowers from all of the bus drivers. He also gave her a strawberry shake, one of her favorite drinks, that was served in a special school bus mug that the Nodaway Valley Middle School Booster Club ordered for her.
Lamb said that over a decade ago, his father told him to go spray Gantz’s yard, but at that time, he didn’t know who she was. He and his family quickly developed a friendship with her. All of Lamb’s children have attended to Gantz’s lawn over the last several years.
“I sprayed her yard, then she couldn’t mow her own yard, so I started mowing her yard. Then I said that I have kids that mow, and come to find out, Donna loves kids and doesn’t have any kids living here,” Lamb said. “I told her that if she needed anything, to call me. My kids started mowing her yard and would talk to her when they were done mowing. They’ve become close to her. I was just helping her because she didn’t have family here.
“Donna loved the bus so much. With her family here, we just wanted to put a bright spot in her day,” Lamb said. “Those bus drivers wanting to come do this, coming by, I didn’t know if we could get it done. You saw her reaction...it was priceless.”
Gantz said she misses the kids on her route and interacting with the other bus drivers, and that’s one thing that made the bus parade so special for her.
“Nobody can understand how it makes me feel to have all those drivers out there for me,” Gantz said. “To leave me flowers, they were wonderful.”