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Mark Warner visits Josh Hardy’s classroom in Fredericksburg

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Sen. Mark Warner hugs Payton Spellman, 7, at Hugh Mercer Elementary School in Fredericksburg. "We believe in you," Spellman told him. / Photos by Autumn Parry

Sen. Mark Warner hugs Payton Spellman, 7, at Hugh Mercer Elementary School in Fredericksburg. “We believe in you,” Spellman told him. / Photos by Autumn Parry

BY ROBYN SIDERSKY / THE FREE LANCE–STAR

After Josh Hardy’s teachers visited U.S. Sen Mark Warner on Capitol Hill Wednesday, he promised to come to their school for a visit.

On Friday, he kept that promise.

While he was in town Friday for a flurry of events, Warner stopped by Denise Phipps’ first-grade class at Hugh Mercer Elementary in Fredericksburg.

He presented the class with a proclamation of what he read on the Senate floor Thursday, in honor of Josh, and gave them the flag that flew over the Capitol Thursday.

It says, in part: “Recognizing Josh Hardy, his family, the students, faculty and staff of Hugh Mercer Elementary School, and the entire Fredericksburg, Virginia region.”

“I want to come and mostly tell you thank you for what you guys have been doing,” he told the youngsters.

“You made a real difference. You let people know about Josh,” Warner said.

Kindergarten teacher Jill Utz (left) and Assistant Principal Sandy Gillenwater (right) comfort Josh Hardy's former kindergarten teacher Christine Stapleton while they listen to Sen. Mark Warner thank the school over the intercom for helping Josh receive the antiviral drug he needed.

Kindergarten teacher Jill Utz (left) and Assistant Principal Sandy Gillenwater (right) comfort Josh Hardy’s former kindergarten teacher Christine Stapleton while they listen to Sen. Mark Warner thank the school over the intercom for helping Josh receive the antiviral drug he needed.

He said he spoke to Josh’s dad, Todd Hardy, just before visiting and he said “Josh is working really really hard.”

What he read to them, he said, helped recognize what they did.

“I wanted you guys to see this,” he said of the proclamation.

“You kind of changed the world. We were able to get Josh the medicine he needs.”

Warner hugged Phipps and Mae Station, Josh’s grandmother.

He presented her with the proclamation as well.

Two students, Payton Spellman from Phipps’ class and Walter Linsner from Lisa Dingman’s class, gave Warner thank-you notes for helping Josh.

Josh’s classmates also wrote get-well notes and drew pictures for him, and gave them to his grandmother to bring to him in Memphis, where he is being treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Josh Hardy's grandmother, Mae Staton, hugs his first-grade teacher Denise Phipps, after meeting with Warner.

Josh Hardy’s grandmother, Mae Staton, hugs his first-grade teacher Denise Phipps, after meeting with Warner.

After visiting Phipps’ classroom, he got on a loud speaker in the school’s gym, so he could talk to all the students and teachers in the school.

“I just wanted to tell you from the bottom of my heart, thank you what you did for Josh,” he said.

He also promised to take action.

“We’re going to make sure other Joshes around the country get access to drugs they need as well,” he said.

Josh’s teachers started a petition that’s already gotten nearly 200 signatures.

The online petition says:

“In light of the Josh Hardy situation, we want to create a bill proposal. This bill would focus on compassionate care for children with critical health conditions. Josh Hardy was very lucky to have the support of family, friends, and the community. Other children who are in similar critical medical conditions may not have that support. Passage of this proposed bill would create a law that provides children with the release of life saving drugs through compassionate care.

Please sign this petition. We hope to provide ALL children with a chance to live.”

The petition,created on change.org can be found at http://goo.gl/Q7vJf7.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2014/03/14/mark-warner-visits-josh-hardys-classroom-in-fredericksburg/

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