Why this 60-year-old ‘Kettering boy’ just gave $100K to Fairmont music


Why this 60-year-old ‘Kettering boy’ just gave $100K to Fairmont music

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Kevin O’Donnell, with Kettering Fairmont band director Mike Berning and music teacher Bryce Newton, as O’Donnell’s donation of $100,000 is revealed to the audience Tuesday night. CONTRIBUTED

A Fairmont graduate who has served as a substitute teacher for Kettering City Schools more than 30 years and worked for UPS for more than 40 years has pledged $100,000 to the Fairmont Music Department.

Kevin O’Donnell announced the donation of $20,000 each year for the next five years on Tuesday night. School officials said it was the largest private donation ever made to the Fairmont Music Department. The Fairmont Band Boosters will oversee management of the funds.

The irony is, O’Donnell said, “When I sub in music class, I feel like a fish out of water.”

He said Kettering schools were full of precise, exact musicians.

The lifelong Kettering resident — who said he never sends a text message or email — said he loves Kettering schools.

“I’m a Kettering boy, and Kettering schools just do a fantastic job,” he said.

O’Donnell attended Prass Elementary and Kettering Middle School and is a Fairmont East graduate. He is also a University of Dayton graduate.

His nephew, also named Kevin O’Donnell, is a Kettering Fairmont graduate known for his music skills. The nephew was very involved in the music program at Fairmont.

O’Donnell told the school district that he wanted to do something for the music department while he is still alive.

O’Donnell asked that the funds be used to help students with instrument repair costs and with scholarships for students wanting to pursue music in college. It also can be used to help purchase “step-up” instruments — better quality instruments that students who are serious about music or are wanting to make a career out of music should be using once they get to the high school level of music programs.

“A lot of kids that might have $150 repair bill on their saxophone, and their family might not be able to fix it,” he said. “That is not going to happen on my time.”

He thought about the donation for about six months and decided to move ahead with it “so kids can keep on playing and chasing their dreams.”

O’Donnell, who turned 60 this year, said he was more of an athletic type but thought music deserved the help.

“The athletics always get the No. 1 seed over everything else,” he said.

O’Donnell often substitute teaches in Kettering or Dayton by day and works a night shift with UPS, he said.

“I like to help out when I can,” he said. “I am usually pretty low-key on how I operate.”

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