Public school employees donate sick days to school bus driver diagnosed with heart failure


HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – An Alabama school bus driver diagnosed with heart failure has received an overwhelming response to help him get better. During the school year, Andy Thrower spends his mornings and afternoons driving a Hoover City School bus. He’s been doing that for about seven years.

A few months ago, Thrower found out he had 30,000 extra heartbeats over a 24-hour period. His doctors diagnosed him with heart failure.

Doctors would have to go in and burn the area of his heart that was causing the extra heartbeats. It was something, doctors say, he probably had since birth that’s gotten worse over the years.

His disorder finally stopped him in his tracks after Thanksgiving. The Monday after the holiday, Thrower underwent a much needed heart surgery.

Recovery time would take him away from his part-time job for several weeks and he wasn’t quite sure how he’d be able to make up for the extra days off he needed.

“I was off about three weeks after Thanksgiving and before the Christmas holiday and so that period of time I used up all of my sick time that I had accumulated through driving the bus,” said Thrower.

So he went on Facebook and asked if any of his friends had any sick days they could donate. The response was overwhelming.

“I didn’t necessarily think that it was going to receive a 100 different shares and multiple people reaching out to me offering to donate days, I was just trying to see if there were some folks that knew some other folks or maybe a teacher or maybe another bus driver,” said Thrower.

Suddenly, people from all over the state were contacting Hoover City Schools to donate their sick days to Thrower. A Vestavia Hills baseball coach, an employee at Auburn University and a teacher in Gadsden, just to name a few.

In between his part-time job of driving a school bus, Thrower also runs a non-profit called the ATeam Ministries, which helps families affected by pediatric cancer. He usually helps other people, but this time around he needed the help and the community came through.

Thrower credits the sick leave bank program through the Alabama Department of Education that allowed him to get those donated sick days. He hopes other employees learn about the program because it could really help people who are even worse off than him.

“I’m grateful for the 15 to 20 days that people gave me, but there’s a lot of people who have it a lot worse and this sick leave bank benefits them as much or more.” said Thrower.

Thrower says he should have enough donated days by the end of this week to get him all caught up.

He plans on getting back to work this week. Any extra sick-days donated to him, Thrower will use for any follow-up doctors appointments.

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