I jingle the keys in my hand. My keys. My school. It’s finally happening. I sign the papers, and it’s mine. HEROES has a new home. I have a new home — not to live in per se, but HEROES is– and always will be — my home.
It’s been a long journey to get here. I signed a contract in September, but one obstacle after another has fallen in my path. My attorney says he’s never seen something quite like this. It was a mess. I was ready to close before Thanksgiving, but the seller’s weren’t. I was starting to think they’d never be ready to close, but we powered through. We made it.
I’m exhausted. I’m junior-year-of-high school level exhausted, a metaphor that only those closest to me will truly understand, but it’s the only one that seems to fit. Adrenaline has kept me going; hope has kept me going. I didn’t just survive; I made it.
Closing on the property floods me with relief. I’m not sure if I’m ready to collapse or dance in circles. I quickly visit the property after closing, and it really hits me. I dance in circles inside the eerie abandoned walls of what once was a school — what will be revived through a tremendous amount of work and love to be my school — HEROES.
I’ve been dreaming of this day for as long as I can remember. My mom has been dreaming of this day for even longer. People often commend me on my accomplishments, impressed by my drive and accomplishments. “But you’re so young,” I hear people say. People seldom honor her accomplishments — her drive – her determination — her successes. This accomplishment is as much hers as mine. She gives me all the credit. She proudly tells people, “This is all Danielle’s. She did it.” But she did it too. I wouldn’t be here today without her. I wouldn’t have this land — this dream — without her. She’s the reason why I have this building that I can call mine. She’s the reason why this building will soon be a beautiful new home for us and our students. For that — and so much more – I thank her.
I can’t stop staring at the keys. I want to visit the property daily just to revel in the accomplishment. We started HEROES thirteen years ago. We opened HEROES Academy seven years ago. We’ve been searching for property for almost three years. It’s a dream come true, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.