HESPERIA • As far as Lynnae Franklin was concerned, Thursday did not seem different than any other day of school at Pathways to College Elementary.
After spending recess jumping rope, 7-year-old Franklin returned to class and prepared herself for a trip to the school's computer room. But as soon as all of her classmates found their way back to their seat, Franklin's teacher, Ms. Jones, directed their attention to three visitors who had entered the classroom with a very large check. Unknown to Franklin, it belonged to her.
Accompanied by Franklin's grandparents, Robert and Colleen Manghane, Midge Nicosia, the executive director of the Victor Valley Community Service Council, presented Franklin with a $1,000 check for taking first place in the Great Duck Race — a fundraiser that races toy ducks and donates its proceeds to programs that assist senior citizens.
"We wanted to surprise her," said Colleen Manghane, who ended up surprising more than just her granddaughter.
As Nicosia called Franklin to the front of the class and explained what the money was for, the class erupted in an applause with every eye fixated on Franklin and nearly every mouth dropped half-way to the floor.
In a matter of moments, Franklin had received more money than she had ever seen in her life and become one of the richest thirdgraders at her school.
"I feel happy," said a shocked Franklin, who could barely muster any other words.
With each duck costing $20, and no limit to how many ducks could be entered, Franklin's lone duck was only one of 432 other contestants during Sunday's fundraiser. But what had made the check all the more surprising was that she was unaware of the results of the race, which was part of the weekend's Hesperia Days celebration. Due to other obligations, Franklin and her family were unable to attend.
"I know how she feels because I was in shock too when I received the call on Monday," Colleen Manghane said.
Colleen Manghane, who runs the nonprofit organization Foster Care and Relative Emphasis with her husband, was responsible for entering Franklin and several other of her grandchildren in the race, and has developed a relationship with Nicosia through network meetings between local organizations. With Franklin currently living with her grandparents, Nicosia could not have been happier to see who the recipient of the money was.
"It couldn't have been a better situation," Nicosia said. "It was the best possible outcome for a girl who needs the money."
While the rest of the class fantasized how they would spend $1,000, Franklin has no idea how she will spend the money.
"They (classmates) are going to want you to buy ice cream for them," joked Robert Manghane.