When Abbie Grace Flohr returned to her Lutz neighborhood after a life-saving surgery, she was greeted with a life-affirming welcome home celebration.
The young woman, who will be a freshman at Steinbrenner High this fall, was coming home from the hospital, after a surgery to address a massive blood clot in a vein near her heart, according to her mom, Cheryl Flohr.
The operation took six hours and involved putting in five stents.
This is just the latest medical issue for Abbie Grace, who has been hospitalized more than 120 times, her mom said.
When Julie Dumois-Sands, the social worker at Martinez Middle School heard that Abbie Grace would be returning home, she came up with the idea of greeting the girl with a driveway concert and car parade.
Dumois-Sands turned for help to Karen Bishop, a retired Martinez Middle orchestra teacher.
Bishop texted some of her former students to see if they could help, and she got a huge response.
Some of the volunteer musicians were Bishop’s private students, so they didn’t even know Abbie Grace.
Just the same, they turned out to create a pop-up orchestra with 25 players, including Steven Bossert, orchestra director at Plant High, and musicians from Martinez Middle and Steinbrenner, Gaither, Hillsborough and Blake high schools.
They played a 10-minute concert, without the benefit of any practice.
It was: “Show up. Set up. Let’s go,” Bishop said.
Besides being the social worker at Martinez, Dumois-Sands also founded the school’s Circle of Friends, Bishop said. That group aims to prevent bullying and to promote inclusion, and both Bishop and Abbie Grace are among its members.
Abbie Grace and her mom were touched by the outpouring of warmth.
“We live in a place where we truly are a community,” Cheryl Flohr said. “Over 20 kids took time out of their day to do this. Thank you to all of our friends that came by to show your support,” she said.
But, Abbie Grace and her mom weren’t the only ones to take joy from the event, Bishop said.
“It certainly brought sunshine to a lot of people, not only the Flohr family, but to the kids, parents and teachers that just wanted to spread the love — a much needed thing, especially when the world is a tough place right now, the retired orchestra teacher said.
This kind of love makes the world a “kinder place” and offers hope for the future, she said.
Published July 08, 2020
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