Henry Fletcher is a man who works hard and in his own words, just does his job. And because of that, he was justifiably rewarded.
Fletcher works full-time as a driver for the Pascagoula-Gautier School District (PGSD) Transportation Department, and in his spare time, he takes care of the football stadium for Gautier High School (GHS). He tends to the lights, makes sure the scoreboard and loudspeakers are working, and does everything needed to accommodate the players, fans, and staff.
Because Resurrection Catholic High School (RCS) does not have its own stadium, GHS graciously allows its football team to use theirs when Gautier has away games. At these games, Fletcher is just as attentive to the needs of the RCS Eagles and their fans as he is to the Gautier Gators.
On the night that RCS played their last game in Gautier, Fletcher was there as always, making sure everything was in proper working condition and helping anyone with anything they needed. For him, it was just another football game. By the end of the night, he would come to know just how much his work ethic and consideration for others was appreciated.
Fletcher was asked to come out on the field at halftime to draw the winner of the truck the Eagles baseball team was raffling off. After he did so, he started to leave but was asked to stay. He was confused but remained there with RCS Principal Kristal Sisson and Dr. Alice Lachaussee, the social studies chair and head cheerleading coach.
At that point, an announcement, written by Dr. Lachaussee, was read over the loudspeaker:
“Every time we play our RCS football games at Gautier High School’s stadium, the faculty, staff, students, and fans are treated with great hospitality by the stadium’s caretaker, Mr. Henry Fletcher. He is welcoming and gracious, so incredibly helpful and kind. Whether in the August heat or on chillier nights like this one, Mr. Henry is always here with a smiling face and a commitment to assist our RCS family. He makes us feel right at home and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Mr. Henry is a true gentleman, and we are so very appreciative of all that he does for us. We recently learned that Mr. Henry has been ill, despite this, he continues to help us each Friday. Therefore, we would like to take a moment to extend our gratitude to him. Resurrection Catholic School would like to give the proceeds from the cheerleaders’ split-the-pot fundraiser this evening along with a collection that we took up throughout the day at school today to Mr. Henry. Thanks to the efforts of our school family, we are thrilled to present Mr. Henry with a total of $1,600. God bless you, Mr. Henry Fletcher!”
Fletcher was understandably stunned. Even after receiving the cash, he was still in disbelief.
“I couldn’t believe it. When they wouldn’t let me leave, I didn’t know what was going on. I never would have ever thought anything like that was going to happen,” Fletcher said.
But the surprise only got bigger as the winner of the split-the-pot raffle asked that her share ($600) go to Fletcher instead, netting him $2,200.
What is amazing about this charitable act is that it was all thought up and executed in half a day.
Early that Friday morning, after learning that Mr. Fletcher was ill, Dr. Lachaussee posted on social media about the plan to raise money for Fletcher. She wrote that since the cheerleaders did a split-the-pot raffle each week to help with travel expenses, this time they would give the money instead to Fletcher. And the word spread. Brady’s Steaks & Seafood Restaurant reached out with a large donation, and so did a number of individuals. Within hours $1,000 had been raised. That evening, the cheerleaders met fans as they entered the gate at the stadium selling raffle tickets as well as worked through the stands in the game’s first half, raising another $200.
Lachaussee is amazed but not all that surprised at the generosity bestowed upon Fletcher.
“It’s a beautiful testament about our school, our families, and our students. One of our most important lessons that we impart on the students is that we should always strive to help others just as Jesus did – the lepers, the blind, the poor, the outcast, everyone. The simplest post made on social media that Friday morning on just two Facebook pages helped to have a major impact on one man’s life. It makes my heart swell!” Lachaussee said.
Principal Sisson wholeheartedly agrees and praises all those involved.
“Thank you Dr. Lachaussee for pulling this together in less than a day and to everyone who answered the call to help support someone in need. Also, special thanks to the split-the-pot winner who, without hesitation, donated their winnings back to Mr. Fletcher,” Sisson said.
Fletcher has stage IV cancer, and because of his health diagnosis, his doctors didn’t want him to work. But he enjoys working so he told his doctors he would continue working. However, once the season started, he realized it was too much for him, so he plans to retire at the end of this school year.
Weeks after the event, Fletcher was still in shock about the monetary donation. In fact, he had no idea he had become somewhat of a “celebrity.” It wasn’t until his children had informed him that they had seen posts about it on Facebook that he realized how big it was. He thought it was just a one-time social media post that was known about by only those in attendance at the game.
He is so appreciative of the kindness shown to him and can’t thank everyone enough for what they did, but still can’t believe it happened and why RCS took the time to honor him, because as he repeatedly says, “I was only doing my job.”