Longtime FSD79 Bus Driver Receives Surprise Gift
Sept. 20, 2018
WATCH: A Special Surprise
MUNDELEIN, IL — Ken Overton’s pride in driving a school bus has persisted throughout his professional career. So much so that he’s currently in his 31st year transporting children, including each of the last 17 years at Fremont School District 79.
"I really like working with the kids,” the 52-year-old Overton said. “It keeps me young. I’m not a spring chicken anymore."
"It's great seeing the expression on the kids' faces when you see them in the morning. As a bus driver, you’re usually the first one to see them. If you greet them with a nice 'good morning,' you can start their day off well and you can end their day well when you bring them home in the afternoon."
"He just makes them so comfortable" said Harlee Beam, a mother of two children at FSD79 schools. "He's very positive."
"He cares for the kids from the time they get on the bus until they get off the bus. He completely loves his job and cares for everybody, so we wanted to give something back."
Overton has never asked for, or expected, anything in return for getting children to and from their schools safely over the years. However, the longtime Chicago Blackhawks fan recently got the surprise of a lifetime.
"Mr. Ken always said he had never been to a Blackhawks game, so Christmas came early for him," said Beam.
FSD79 Director of Transportation Keith Johnson has known Overton since Overton’s first year driving a bus in 1988.
"I wasn't surprised," Johnson said when he found out that the group of parents came up with an idea to present Overton with a gift. "He goes out of his way to help everybody. He's a part of the community and people enjoy his company."
"He's a kid at heart. He'll dress up for Halloween; he's always doing things with the kids."
It was Johnson who alerted Overton that a group of parents asked to meet with him.
"I thought maybe I had done something wrong," said Overton.
Johnson assured Overton that he hadn't done anything wrong and that the group just had something for him.
"I pulled my bus into the school and saw my whole group of kids standing outside and I wondered what was going on. The families were all there."
When Overton parked the bus and opened its doors, the students climbed in and one of the adults presented him with a surprise gift: two tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks' exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings on September 25 at United Center.
"I was totally flabbergasted...I was really appreciative," said Overton. "It was a total shocker."
"He was just so excited," Beam said. "The overwhelmingness that he had brought tears to our eyes because we know that he cares for these kids. They're like his own."
"School is tough. There's anxiety with it being the beginning of the school year; kindergarteners are going with bigger kids on the bus. It was nice and it was a positive and he's still talking about how excited he is."
Once Overton finished parking the bus, he had one request for the parents. He asked if he could give the kids a hug as a thank you and they all happily obliged while also taking a group photo.
The opportunity to visit the United Center for the first time has been a long time coming.
"I've always wanted to go to a game," Overton said. "I really like Jonathan Toews. Patrick Kane is my favorite player. I've got my Patrick Kane jersey, which I've never worn, but I'm going to wear it to the game."
"I'm just looking forward to really having a good time and experiencing a real, live hockey game in person instead of just watching it on TV."
As for the warm gesture that the students and parents bestowed upon him, Overton remains blown away by their kindness.
"I just really want to thank the families that contributed to this. I'm really looking forward to it and I can't wait to go on September 25th."
Kindness does indeed come full circle.