'We have a hero right here in our school'

KPS Kindergarten teacher Robin Tryon, in plaid shawl, was surprised by her colleagues and family at Monday’s Citizenship Awards. Tryon is set to donate one of her kidneys to ailing cousin Mark Swisher, who lives in Dallas, Texas.

Kingsford Park School teacher set to donate kidney

OSWEGO — Students, teachers and family members of Kingsford Park Elementary School this week conspired to surprise beloved Kindergarten teacher Robin Tryon with a KPS Citizenship Award — but this was no ordinary edition of the monthly ceremony.

Kingsford Park School’s Citizenship Awards recognizes students, teachers and community members who have shown outstanding achievement in representing a positive trait for the month — “respectfulness” in January.

In a packed, emotional gymnasium on Monday, Tryon was honored before the entire student body for her upcoming donation of a kidney to her cousin, Mark Swisher of Dallas, Texas.

Swisher, 60, has been tethered to a dialysis machine to support his kidneys for several years. Tryon has been making rounds between Oswego and Dallas for round-the-clock blood tests lasting four days to see if she is a match for Swisher. As it happens, she is.

Robin Tryon’s daughter, Lydia Tryon, counted down the minutes to the 2:30 p.m event, and was ushered to surprise her mother, along with parents-in-law June and Vernon Tryon.

Lydia Tryon said the kidney donation was “an easy decision” for her mother to make because she understands the arduous living conditions caused kidney failure.

“Hopefully that never happens to you and you never have to know,” Annette Geers, Kingsford Park School secretary, told Lydia Tryon. “It’s remarkable we have people like your mother.”

June Tryon said her daughter-in-law has already matched with Swisher according to a medical committee responsible for overseeing the transplant and Tryon has meticulously followed a restrictive diet.

The surgical and pre-op teams overseeing the transplant process have scheduled a final meeting for Feb. 1.

“She came away from [her most recent Dallas visit] feeling quite confident,” June Tyron said of her daughter-in-law. “She has great compassion for everyone, from her Kindergarten up to her family.”

The school’s student body, Kindergarten through sixth-grade, had already gathered in the gym for the monthly assembly when Geers escorted Tryon’s family members to the entrance.

“She has no idea we are here,” said Lydia Tryon, moments taking center stage. “She is going to be so surprised.”

And surprised Robin Tryon was. The double-whammy of being named a model “hero” for children to emulate and seeing her daughter and parents in law brought a look of joyful bewilderment to the veteran teacher’s face.

“We recognize heroes in our community,” fellow Kindergarten teacher Mary Lynne Maxwell told the audience. “And you know what? We have a hero right here in our school and that hero is Mrs. Robin Tryon.”

Swisher, who longed to join the celebration in person, was bound by his remote location and dialysis treatment but was able to communicate via FaceTime projection for all in the gymnasium to see.

“I used to travel to countries like Israel and Greece, but now I have to be hooked up to a machine,” Swisher said. “With Robin’s donation’s I’ll be essentially reborn.”

Maxwell, who led the assembly with fellow Kindergarten teacher Carolyn Slobodian invited Tryon to sit at the head of the gym, where Kindergarten classes sang “The Kindness Song.”

“Boys and girls,” she said. “She is giving the biggest thing you can give someone — to give someone your life. It’s amazing.”

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