One of Our Own - The Greatest Success Story in ISM History-One of Our Own - The Greatest Success Story in ISM History-Author Default
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The International School of Moscow
18 October, 2023

One of Our Own - The Greatest Success Story in ISM History

One of Our Own - The Greatest Success Story in ISM History-One of Our Own - The Greatest Success Story in ISM History-82621-melisa-erdem-
One of Our Own - The Greatest Success Story in ISM History

"On the 17th of August 2017, something happened that changed my life and the lives of everyone connected with The International School of Moscow at that time forever." Find out how ISM embarked upon the biggest charity fundraising campaign in our history.

Many of us talk about 'JFK Moments'. Moments in history when we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing at the exact time of a groundbreaking event. I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was at the time that I heard about Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Michael Jackson's tragic passings, as well as the awful scenes that no one will ever forget on September the 11tha 2001.  

Very few, if any of you, will have Thursday the 17th of August 2017 as one of your 'JFK Moments'.

On that day, I met with Mr Yalcin Erdem.

The news that he was about to deliver would change my life and the lives of everyone connected with The International School of Moscow at that time forever.

Over the course of that summer, Mr Erdem's daughter and ISM student, Melisa, had been diagnosed with a very rare heart disorder and would have to undergo a heart replacement operation.

Mr Erdem asked me if The International School of Moscow would be able to help make the operation happen. I naively asked how we could help. Mr Erdem told me that the best possible thing that we could do would be to help the family raise enough money for the operation. I asked how much money they would need. 

"One Million, One Hundred Thousand Euros" was Mr Erdem's response.

Without blinking, without thinking, I told Mr Erdem that we, The International School of Moscow would raise all of the 1,100,000 Euros for Melisa's operation.

Over the years since then, I would be lying if I did not admit that the thought crossed my mind on numerous occasions that, for once, The International School of Moscow and I had bitten off more than we could chew.

Over the following four years, our school embarked upon the biggest charity fundraising campaign in our history. We formed a charity, 'Heart for Melisa' and organised a '100km in 24 hours' Sponsored Walk, two art auctions, a danceathon, student toy sales, numerous bake sales, sponsored fun runs, a staff production of Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', garage sales, open mic nights, quiz nights, a staff and student football tournament, a Rosinka Beach Event (organised by parents), movie nights and a football shirt raffle. We sold wristbands and badges and had a British royal photographer take our staff and students' photos. Some students even started mini-enterprises, selling items such as Christmas cards. At Rosinka Campuses, students made bids so that they could become Head of Campus for the day. In addition, we received many extremely generous personal donations from our terrific families and superb students' pocket money.

Thanks to the magnificent students, staff and parents of The International School of Moscow, miracles can and do happen.

Friday July the 2nd 2021 was one of the proudest days of my life when it was my honour and privilege to hand over a cheque for 1,100,000 Euros to Mr Erdem at our Annual Speech Day.

On the 5th of August 2022 at 03.00, Melisa successfully underwent replacement heart surgery.

The Greatest Success Story in ISM's history was complete.

I know of no other school in the world who has raised such a huge amount of money for charity.

I thank everyone, from the bottom of my heart, who contributed to 'Heart for Melisa'. We have achieved what some people said was impossible: Given new life to Melisa; One of Our Own.

Paul Keach
Principal