A little boy touched the hearts of many after constructing a hugging machine’ for his kindergarten teacher who is struggling with stage four metastatic breast cancer.

Keri Stromski received her diagnosis in 2016, but she kept on working as a kindergarten teacher and during the covid situation started doing online classes with her students.

Knowing the rules around social distancing, one 5-year-old student of hers named Avery, decided to do something about the fact that Keri could not receive the hugs she deserved. So he created the ‘hug machine’.

The hug machine. Image: Cathie Green

His mother, Cathie Green, knew about the existence of homemade ‘hug machines’ with plastic protectors, so she helped her child make one for Keri just in case she wanted to use it while social distancing was in effect.

It is made out of a plastic sheet that separates two ‘huggers’, and each person uses their own disposable bags in order to safely embrace through a curtain.

After building it, Avery and his folks brought it to Keri’s home in New York.

Talking about the ‘hug machine’ to Good Morning America, Cathie said, the teacher was more than delighted.

She even screamed to her family,

“Come out here, look at what they made me … I’m going to get to hug one of my students!” ABC reported.

Keri and her family. Image: Keri Stromski

Cathie went on to say:

“She’s an amazing person and I think she needs the kids as much as the kids need her. This was the least I could do after all she’s done for our babies.”

Keri shared a video on Twitter praising Avery and his family:

“When one of your virtual kindergarten families know it’s been a rough week with SBRT radiation, chemo & stage four mbc, they bring a hugging machine they built so I can stay safe and get all the hugs I want.”

Cathie said the teacher is a ‘superhero’ and talked about how she often includes puppets in her classes and wears different wigs to make her pupils laugh.

Currently, Keri is being treated at Stony Brook University Hospital and hopes to go back to teaching after the spring break, although her students believe she’s actually on a ‘super-secret mission to save a new puppet.’

Little Avery. Image: Cathie Green

She described the hospital workers as ‘family’, and told GMA that while the cancer ward is a bad place to be, it is ‘full of the most amazing and wonderful people’.

Keri and the hospital staff. Image: Keri Stromski

In honor of Keri, her community is about to organize a parade, with people wearing blue and white to represent her school district.

Keri said:

“It’s to celebrate how resilient we all are … especially the children.

The work everyone has done is amazing – from the families, students, teachers, custodians, aides, secretaries, nurses, cafeteria, administration, union and BOE (Board of Education). I love my town and my district and the Blue Waves are the best people you’ll ever meet.”

Image: Keri Stromski

On top of educating little children, Keri is also an advocate for stage four cancer research and has been able to raise $16,000 in two years for her own research. In addition, she supports the Stony Brook Cancer Center Research Fund.

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