LC seniors purchase car for beloved teacher

By BUSTER WOLFE,

While he stood on the side of road for three hours with his 5-year-old son and a broken-down 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jason Broome didn’t realize how much his life was going to change in less than a week.

Because of an unselfish act by a small group of high school seniors, Broome later counted his blessings.

Tuesday, Jan. 16, was a cold day, with snow flurries expected later that afternoon. Broome and his son, Levi, were going to Lamar Christian School that morning; he teaches history and his son is in the K-5 class. Broome turned on the car’s heater and things started getting worse.

“I was driving along, it was cold that morning and I turned the heater on,” he said. “All of a sudden, it started blowing harder than it was supposed to blow. I started to turn it off and it wouldn’t turn off. Smoke started filling the car. My child who comes with me was in the car. So, I pulled over and got him out of the car and got my laptop. It wouldn’t stop blowing after I turned it off, so I had to go take the cable off the battery. I didn’t know if we were going to have a fire on the side of the road.”

Luckily, the Rev. Bill Wright saw the pair on the side of Browns Bridge Road as he was driving to First Baptist Church of Purvis, where he is the minister. After Wright dropped Broome and his son off at school, the 11 seniors heard about story, put their heads together and decided to do something about Broome’s situation.

Kara Lauderdale, one of the seniors, said the group moved quickly to find Broome another car.

“Connor (Bowman, a senior) went and found the car,” she said. “He figured everything out and his mom texted us all and told us the plan. Then we all just gave what we could.”

Bowman said he was glad to see what they were able to accomplish, collecting a little more than $6,000 to buy a 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

“I’m surprised this many people got together to get it done,” he said. “(Broome) was just going to buy a rinky-dink car that was going to do the same thing. So, we just figured we would break the cycle and get him a decent one.”

Broome, who has been at the school for nine years, has taught the LCS seniors for at least four years, Lauderdale said.

“Mr. Broome, we have had him as a teacher since the ninth grade,” she said. “He has been a big influence in our lives. He is more like a friend.”

Bowman had a different take.

“I don’t like him as a teacher because I hate history,” he said. “But he really cares about everybody.”

Broome had tried to push the Jeep Grand Cherokee as far as it could go. He was getting jumpstarts after the home basketball games, when he kept the team statistics and worked the scoreboard. He even received a jump box for Christmas.

He and his wife also work at the All-Ranks Club at Camp Shelby during the evenings, another destination that had to be figured in.

On Monday, Jan. 22, Broome got called to the office.

“When they first called me downstairs, I was thinking we were going to talk about some details about the senior trip to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I got down here and I saw that they were standing strangely outside. I see that they are looking at me, I see the car and then I see a big bow on the car. My mind is still on the trip and somebody said, ‘What do you think about it?’”

Broome was really surprised.

“Wow!” he said. “I’m not a person who likes to cry, but I felt emotional. I didn’t know what words to say to express my gratitude. They didn’t just select any old thing; I would have been touched with anything. At this point, I would have been excited about anything that ran. This is really a nice car.”

Broome said he knows that the students also had the support of their parents.

“I was touched by the parents because I know a lot of that backing came from them,” he said. “Some of those parents, I kinda know them. Some of them I know really well, but some of them I don’t know as well. That’s touching because people have their own families to deal with. And for them to step aside and say, ‘We’re going to help that family’ is big.”

Lauderdale said the students appreciate Broome.

“He could go somewhere and do something where he makes a little more money, but he stays here because he cares about us,” she said. “I think that’s a big thing. He’s just a great person and if anybody deserved this, it was him.”