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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Our trip to Eaton Elementary starts out like any other Teacher of the Week presentation. Second grade teacher Christie Nye was shocked to see our camera and even more surprised to learn she was being honored.

After calming down, she explained what it is she loves so much about teaching. “There are so many things,” she said. “I get to be a mom. I get to be a nurse. I get to be a cheerleader. I get to do all those things. I get to be an actress, that’s my favorite.”

Hold on…did she say cheerleader? Too bad there isn’t a football player around.

Then…Arizona Cardinal Jonathan Cooper fixes that problem by popping in…with a check for $400.

Through tears, she finds the words to scream his name and embraces him for a long time. “when Jonathan walked in,” she paused. “I would have never in a million years expected this.”

Cooper was a former student of Nye’s and said it brings back a lot of memories to walk into her classroom. “It’s a lot of fun,” Cooper smiled.

Nye held his hand for a minute, then said: “it is a blessing to see someone grow from seven or eight years old to a man that’s offering up a lot to this world.”

Cooper is still recovering from a season-ending injury and said he looks forward to hitting the field with his teammates next season. And he has a message for the students he surprised.

“They have the ability to do anything they put their minds to and not to let anyone discourage them and tell them they can’t,” he said.

His former teacher echoed his message. “The dreams you have right now…work hard and you can achieve them,” Nye said.

That’s exactly what Cooper plans to do over the next few months. After a brief stay with family in Wilmington, he’ll return to Arizona to continue training.

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