By SKY REYNOLDS and TANVI BARGAJE
A GoFundMe for history teacher and coach John Kessler organized by close family friend, Lori Rudin, has brought the University High School community together to raise money.
Kessler was hospitalized due to a brain hemorrhage on November 22nd. Rudin, a friend of the Kesslers’ since 2012, organized a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money to provide financial support for him and his family.
Kessler’s recovery fund has currently raised over $80,000 with 955 donors. The GoFundMe page has been shared over 1,300 times and is followed by over a thousand people.
“I am thrilled beyond belief about not just the GoFundMe amount raised but with the amount of individual donations,” Rudin said. “The support outside of donations from the community has been staggering, with the sheer amount of alumni players and parents reaching out to me to offer additional help: bringing meals to the family and helping with contacts within the medical community.”
Mr. Kessler coached both of Rudin’s children for all four years during their time at UHS and taught them both in AP United States History as well.
“I know that hospitalizations are expensive and felt that if we as a community could lift the burden of financial woes off the Kessler’s shoulders, that would help him a lot both mentally and physically.” Rudin said.
This fundraiser brings the University High School community together as the far-reaching impact of Mr. Kessler as an educator and coach can be seen in how students, families, alumni, and friends have come together to donate.
University High School alumni Josh Lutito, who took Mr. Kessler’s American Experience class in 2012, was among the many that donated and said “It was the only class that truly challenged my presuppositions and the bulk of that lays solely on [his] honest approach to dialogue and the resulting mutual respect between [Kessler] and [his] students that [he] cultivated.”
Many of Kessler’s students or former students also contributed to the fundraiser.
“John is a brilliant and charismatic teacher and coach, and is beloved those whose have spent time with him. I’m not surprised by the turnout,” Lutito said, “that’s to be expected by someone as universally admired as John, but I am laughing to myself that John and Hali are somewhat overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. I know both of them truly touched by all of this.”
Beckman, Woodbridge, and Portola High School’s tennis programs also made donations despite being league rivals.
“It’s a horrible situation and tragedy” Nick Friendt, Beckman girl’s tennis coach said. “This couldn’t happen to a more selfless man.”
Last Friday was the one-week-mark of Kessler’s stay in the neuro ICU unit at the hospital and according to Rudin, his hospital stay is expected to last several more weeks. Kessler’s wife and visual arts teacher Hali Kessler says that visitors are welcome and arrangements to visit him in the hospital can be made by texting her number, which can be found on Kessler’s GoFundMe page.