Grandmother dreams of taking 9 grandkids on special trip after pandemic year

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A local couple never dreamed they would one day raise their nine grandchildren. The Ray family stepped up several years ago when they learned the kids needed their help. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Because Melissa Ray is at high-risk for COVID-19, she has kept all nine kids at home learning virtually for the past year.

They start each school day shaking off extra energy with Grandmother Melissa, also known as “Mimi,” leading the way. But before you know it, computers are on and class has begun at the Ray home.

There is a place at the table for each child and all the materials they need in a learning center that was once the family’s living and dining room.

“It took me a minute to get it together where I could actually make it function and work for us but I finally figured it out,” Melissa said.

Schedules are posted on dry erase boards and on her phone.

“I have alarms set to everybody’s schedule,” Melissa said, “so my phone is constantly ringing.”

“Even before COVID, she was our hero,” husband Steven said. “till is, always will be. She’s amazing. Doctor’s appointments, everything. She handles it. Dinner, behaviors, ha, she handles it.”

She handles it despite heart problems and other health issues she doesn’t talk about. She keeps life as normal as possible for the children she loves. The nine, ranging in age from 6 to 13, came to live with the Rays several years ago.

“It just started with a couple life circumstance’s, you know, eventually all came into custody. There was no other choice,” Steven said.

Melissa agreed, saying, “I wouldn’t have them anywhere else but here.”

When it’s safe to venture out again, the kids’ biggest wish is to go to Disney World. We’re going to try to make that happen with your help. Donate to the GoFundMe page by Tracy Brooks under “Help Make Grandkids Dream Come True.”

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