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People & Places

Wellesley man sets kindness in motion

Left to right: Ann Beach, director of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk; Lisa Scherber, a child life specialist at the Jimmy Fund Clinic of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Zach Galvin, vice principal at Natick High School, with the messages of encouragement he wrote on postcards to accompany iTunes gift cards donated to commemorate his last cancer treatment 16 years ago.

Left to right: Ann Beach, director of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk; Lisa Scherber, a child life specialist at the Jimmy Fund Clinic of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Zach Galvin, vice principal at Natick High School, with the messages of encouragement he wrote on postcards to accompany iTunes gift cards donated to commemorate his last cancer treatment 16 years ago.

PAYING IT FORWARD: To commemorate the date of his final chemotherapy treatment, Natick High School vice principal Zach Galvin has celebrated his self-proclaimed “Yahoo Day” by committing random acts of kindness every Feb. 26 for the past 16 years.

Reports are still coming in from family members, friends, and inspired admirers who now follow the Wellesley resident’s example.

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In honor of this year’s anniversary, Galvin mailed 16 T-shirts to contacts worldwide in a shared effort to pay forward the generosity he benefited from while battling stage 4 Hodgkin’s disease. Stories and photos have been posted to a Yahoo Day page on Facebook from across the United States, Africa, Australia, China, Singapore, Japan, and Italy.

Some examples of his random acts are picking up the breakfast tab for an elderly man at his regular restaurant, giving a gift card to a single mother who works multiple jobs, distributing $20 in coins at a laundromat, pumping and paying for another person’s gas, and handing out free coffee, sandwiches, cookies, brownies, and chocolate bars.

Galvin donated 30 iTunes gift cards to the Jimmy Fund Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, plus 10 more at its adult clinic, where he was treated in 1996. Galvin dropped off an additional 10 at Massachusetts General Hospital in memory of a former student, 17-year-old Ayesha Chauhan, who found comfort in its music therapy program before she died on March 17, 2011.

Galvin said his goal is to keep “the focus and conversation on the importance of funding cancer research and treatment so that all cancer patients survive.” As a longtime team captain in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, he expects to reach the $500,000 mark for dollars raised by Zach’s Pack with the donation’s collected at this year’s event on Sept. 8.

“If every cancer survivor celebrated their last treatment date this way with friends and family all over the world, people would eventually be doing unexpected, nice things every day of the week, ” Galvin said. “It’s something fun to reach for.”

DONATION OF NOTE: From the time she began thinking about her bat mitzvah project last spring, Newton seventh-grader Abigail Miller knew she wanted it to involve music. She got the perfect idea from her saxophone teacher, Cercie Miller, of Newton Corner, who suggested the instrument and equipment donation program at Berklee College of Music, where Miller is an assistant professor.

Abigail Miller of Newton recently donated 34 instruments to Berklee College of Music for her bat mitzvah project.

Abigail Miller of Newton recently donated 34 instruments to Berklee College of Music for her bat mitzvah project.

A member of Temple Emanuel in Newton, Abigail recently made the last of three deliveries to Berklee for its donation program, which provides computer hardware, musical instruments, and production equipment to Boston public schools and community organizations. She collected 34 instruments, including flutes, recorders, violins, trumpets, saxophones, guitars, keyboards, a Thomas organ, ukulele, xylophone, cello, tambourine, trombone, drum set, instrument cases, and music stands.

Abigail put up fliers at local coffee shops and restaurants, and also posted a description of her project on Craigslist. She spent $50 in donations for the project to purchase used instruments, while honing her negotiation skills to get donations or the lowest cost after explaining her mission. The project became a family affair: Abigail’s mother picked up the instruments she acquired online, and her grandfather delivered the xylophone, which was donated from Connecticut.

Abigail, who celebrated her bat mitzvah on March 9, plans to continue studying music throughout high school and college. She plays alto and tenor saxophone in two concert bands at Oak Hill Middle School in Newton, as well as a jazz band at the Harvey Finstein School of Music at Lasell College.

“I hope the children who get these instruments get to have the same musical experience as I do,” Abigail said, “and I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.”

SPRING FLING: Veteran sportswriter and ESPN analyst Jackie MacMullan and Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory will be the guests of honor at “Spring Fling: An Evening for Library Lovers,” 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer St.

MacMullan, a former Globe sports columnist, and McGrory will sign copies and read from their books, following opening remarks by two Newton residents, author William Novak and National Public Radio’s “On Point” host Tom Ashbrook (another Globe alumnus).

MacMullan has written five books about basketball, including “Shaq Uncut: My Story” with Shaquille O’Neal, and “When the Game Was Ours” with Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

McGrory is a columnist, former White House correspondent and author of four political thrillers. His latest book is a memoir, “Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man.”

The annual fund-raiser will also feature jazz by the Jane Potter Trio, hors d’oeuvres and desserts by Bakers’ Best, and a silent auction. Admission is $125, with proceeds benefiting the purchase of library materials. For information about tickets and sponsorships, call 617-796-1407 or visit www.newtonfreelibrary.net.

Violinist Austin Kwoun of Belmont, a seventh grader at the Fenn School in Concord, earned first place in the Ellen Huff Powers Young Artist Competition at Powers Music School in Belmont on March 3, playing the Mendelssohn Concerto in E Minor.

Joshua Touster

Violinist Austin Kwoun of Belmont, a seventh grader at the Fenn School in Concord, earned first place in the Ellen Huff Powers Young Artist Competition at Powers Music School in Belmont on March 3, playing the Mendelssohn Concerto in E Minor.

TWO FOR TWO: Violinist Austin Kwoun of Belmont, a seventh-grader at the Fenn School in Concord, earned first place at the Ellen Huff Powers Young Artist Competition at Powers Music School in Belmont on March 3. He performed Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E Minor at the event, which is open to classically trained instrumentalists between 11 and 14 years old.

Last month, Austin won the Conductor’s Choice Award at the Jeanne Selandar Memorial Concerto Competition sponsored by the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra. The competition is open to musicians up to age 18.

As the winner of both competitions, Austin will perform a concert with the Powers Music School faculty in July, and with the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra next March. Austin, who studies at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, plays first violin in the Fenn string ensemble, and in the first violin section of the New England Conservatory Youth Symphony.

POETRY OUT LOUD:Micayla Riven, a sophomore at Needham High School, was named second runner-up among 23 state finalists at 2013 Poetry Out Loud on March 10 at Boston’s Old South Meeting House.

Micayla Riven, a sophomore at Needham High School, was named second runner-up at 2013 Poetry Out Loud on March 10 at Boston's Old South Meeting House.

David Marshall

Micayla Riven, a sophomore at Needham High School, was named second runner-up at 2013 Poetry Out Loud on March 10 at Boston's Old South Meeting House.

The winner was Springfield Central High School freshman Courtney Stewart, who will compete in the national final in Washington, D.C., from April 28 to April 30. Next came Stephanie Igharosa, a sophomore at Randolph High School.

The competition, which began with nearly 21,000 students statewide, has been sponsored locally by the Boston-based Huntington Theatre Company and the Massachusetts Cultural Council since its inception eight years ago.

For more information, visit www.huntingtontheatre.org .

People items can be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@ globe.com.
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