NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Virginia Beach teacher makes a life-saving donation to complete stranger

Posted at 4:15 PM, Dec 10, 2019

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Gretchen Curtin has been a special needs teacher in Virginia Beach for 20 years.

Gretchen Curtin

Her principal, Michelle Miller, is very grateful to have Curtin on her staff.

“She’s extremely patient. She takes our youngest students who need extra love and support and helps them grow and develop so they’re ready to begin school and continue their progress," she said.

And as it turns out, she’s a natural helper - not just in the classroom, but in every part of her life. With four kids of her own, she volunteers with their sports fundraisers and is very involved with their church’s soup kitchen.

Her latest gift has to be the biggest: Donating bone marrow to a stranger this past summer.

“There was a little girl at Red Mill a few years ago who had cancer, and so our nurse got together a drive for the bone marrow registry, and five years later I got a call that I was a perfect match for someone," she explained.

Related: People Taking Action: Dedicated Salvation Army bell ringer fights back tears when surprised with award!

Curtin matched with someone in New York City, so she made the trek up north to help save a stranger’s life. Even though it wasn’t as easy as giving blood, she says the process wasn’t that bad.

“A little tired... a little bone pain and I had to squeeze a ball for six hours - that was the hardest part," Curtin  said.

While she downplays such a generous act of love, those who know her well say they are not surprised she said "yes" when the call came.

"That’s just the kind of character she is. Always giving back - not only to a stranger, but to her children and her colleagues and after-school clubs. Whatever it is, she’s there to help," according to Mrs. Miller.

Curtin's husband agrees.

“She’s always giving. [She] has a heart bigger than her body, and people love her wherever she goes.”

News 3 had her two youngest children and husband meet us at the school to surprise Curtin.

We presented Curtin with a People Taking Action award, and our community partner, Southern Bank, gave her a $300 gift card.

Do you know someone who's worthy of a People Taking Action award? Click here to nominate them!