CLINTON, Tenn. — Joan Kroc of McDonald's Corp. says she was so moved by a teacher's efforts to educate a boy with the AIDS virus that she decided to donate more than $230,000 to his school district.
Kroc, the widow of McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc, the company's largest single shareholder and owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team, read a news service story about the solitary classes of DeWayne Mowery, who is the only student in a 5-by-7-foot classroom at the Anderson County Gifted Learning Center.
Boy Is Hemophiliac
Mowery is a 12-year-old hemophiliac with the AIDS virus whose parents withdrew him from school after protests led them to fear for his safety. He carries the virus for the deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome but does not have the disease.
Kroc said she decided to help Angela Gee, who teaches the boy and faced being laid off this week because of budget cuts. She said she sent $10,000 to Gee and $1,000 to DeWayne's parents, James and Norma Mowery of Lake City.
"I read a blurb in the L.A. Times that the teacher had taken this boy under her wing," Kroc said in a telephone interview Wednesday from San Diego. "I wanted to reward her for her beautiful attitude."
'Jumped In My Lap'
Kroc said she sent the school system money because she believes education is given too little funding.
"I find it appalling that these kids aren't our priority," she said. "I can't take care of them all, but this one just jumped in my lap."
After Kroc talked with Anderson County Schools Supt. Terry Webber, she decided to donate $234,769 to the system to balance the budget for the rest of this fiscal year, which runs through June 30.
Officials said the contribution will prevent teacher layoffs and curtailment of bus service proposed recently by the board.