* Forsyth elementary, middle school students read essays about their heroes
SOUTH FORSYTH -- Scott Edwards was not sure why he was asked to be the guest speaker at a ceremony where young children were honoring their real-life heroes, but he said yes because he could relate. His hero saved his life, and he didn’t even know who it was.
When he spoke at the annual Honoring Our Heroes ceremony at Brandywine Elementary School, he told the audience, filled with students from 12 elementary schools and one middle school, their family, friends and teachers, that heroes come in all different forms.
“My hero is a little bit different. My hero is someone who I don’t know,” said Edwards, who owns several CiCi’s Pizza restaurants in metro Atlanta, including in Forsyth.
Edwards received a life-saving bone and marrow transplant at Northside Hospital-Forsyth. He did not match anyone in his family, so he signed up for Be The Match, a national program that registers potential donors.
“I went into [the night] going, ‘Why am I even here? This is pretty out of my comfort zone,’” Edwards said. “My hero was a stranger, and then, boy, it just snowballed from there.”
After his speech and the students’ ceremony, Edwards’s wife read a letter on her phone from a 32-year-old man from Germany who had never flown a plane yet had already saved her husband’s life almost three years ago. Just by volunteering to register at Be The Match and then by be willing to undergo the procedure when called upon.
“I always said the chances of ever meeting my donor were probably rare,” Edwards said.
As his wife finished the letter, a tall, bald man stood up in the back of the cafeteria with a microphone.
“And now,” Christian Kewitsch said, “I’m here.”
As the standing-room-only audience stood and cheered, goosebumps running down arms and smiles across faces, Edwards’s hero walked to the stage to meet outstretched arms and a bear hug.
Lisa Hickenbottom, vice president of the Brandywine PTA, said Anna Sander, the vice president of programs for the Forsyth County Council of PTAs, which put the event on, approached her in November about finding Edwards’s donor to surprise him at the ceremony.
“I was a nurse at Northside Forsyth,” Hickenbottom said. “I connected with a few folks, and through their connections and their Be The Match program, we got him to consent to coming over here — he lives in Germany. We got him a plane ticket, a passport, a visa.
“Scott had no idea he was coming. At the end of a night when kids got to talk about their real-life heroes, Scott Edwards got to meet his.”
Edwards said he figured the meeting would happen at some point but that he didn’t expect it to be so soon and as a surprise.
“I have dreamt about this day often and how it would be,” he said. “I thought I would go to him.”
Edwards said Kewitsch sent him a note three months into his treatment.
“It was very short and in somewhat broken English. Whoever translated it, I could tell it was someone from another country,” he said. “So tonight was the final piece.”
As the ceremony wrapped up, Edwards stood in a hallway behind the stage, not taking his eyes off Kewitsch, dropping neither his smile nor his awe.
“He’s my hero forever,” Edwards said before turning to Kewitsch. “We owe you everything. You have a whole other family and friends now.”