Etobicoke high school students surprise teacher with pair of Jordan sneakers
Video of the gift exchange has gone viral with more than 350,000 views
With Christmas less than a week away a group of high school students in the city's west end are going viral for getting into the spirit of giving.
Twenty-five Grade 10 students from a gym class at Etobicoke School of the Arts surprised their favourite teacher David Blakey with a pair of his favourite shoes on Wednesday.
The result was a heart-warming moment for a teacher that 15-year-old student Aidan Thomson says deserves it.
"He's like a best friend to all of us. He plays basketball with us at lunchtime, helps us with our essays and other schoolwork, he even gives us space to work in the gym and honestly he's just a really nice guy," says Thomson.
The second year student tells CBC the idea to buy his gym teacher a pair of shoes came after being inspired by similar videos he saw on YouTube.
"I wanted to give back to Mr. Blakey because he does so much for us, I just didn't know how. But after seeing videos online of so many other kids doing random acts of kindness for classmates and janitors in the [United] States, I figured we could do the same for Mr. Blakey," Thomson said.
Planning a sentimental surprise
After coming up with the idea to collect cash from classmates and source the sneakers online, the students decided to buy a pair of black and red Air Jordan 13 sneakers for their teacher because of the sentimental value.
Blakey says those shoes were the first and only pair of Jordan sneakers that he bought in 1997 but adds that they served him well with the students he's taught.
"Twenty years ago I bought my only pair of Jordan's and I started my teaching career with those Jordan shoes. It gave me a little bit of celebrity status as a new teacher with the J's on. It made me legit," he said.
Blakey told CBC Toronto that younger students would always ask to wear his Jordans to play basketball so he would let them.
He said that lasted about five years until one day one of his students was running down the court and the soles fell off.
"We taped them up, laughed about it and that was the end of me and Jordans," Blakey said.
Years later students like Thomson were asking him where those Bred Jordan 13s were instead of whether they could wear them, but Blakey said he simply can't afford Jordans for himself anymore because he buys them for his two children.
But getting surprised by his students, who Blakey said are like his kids, means the world to him.
"It's honestly one of the highlights of my career," he said.
Thomson and his classmates said they wanted to put their teacher ahead of themselves, especially during the holidays.
"He just really makes this school in particular really, really fun. Mr. Blakey makes me want to come class and to be able to pay it forward for someone who gives so much to us means a lot," Thomson said.