GRAFTON, Mass.—The family of Seshu Kandukuri, the 19-year-old who died in March after a long battle with cancer, donated their son’s exercise equipment to the Grafton Middle School in early November.
Seshu was the son of Rao and Padma Kandukuri of South Grafton.
"There was tremendous support by the Grafton High School students, staff and the community to my son," the Kandukuri family said in an email message. They went on to say that the support they received sustained them during an emotional period.
The donation is an elaborate weight lifting home gym apparatus that is now being used by the middle school students.
Matt LeMaire, the middle school physical education instructor picked up the equipment at the Kandukuri home and set it up in the building’s weight room.
LeMaire said the gift was greatly appreciated, was in great need for the students and freed the school system from having to buy one of its own.
He was told by the family the donation was really a 'thank you' to the Grafton school system for their efforts to help Seshu when he was sick.
Seshu was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and the entire high school rallied around him. In September 2011, many joined a 26-mile walk-a-thon to raise money for the Jimmy Fund wearing blue wristbands with the slogan, “Seshu Strong.”
Seshu spent much of his senior year getting chemotherapy at the Dana Farber Clinic, but was able to keep up with his school work and graduate with his class in 2011. Students raised more than $3,000 to buy their classmate a laptop and cover out-of-pocket medical costs.
"We wanted to keep Seshu's spirit alive," the family wrote. "This gym equipment is the perfect thing where all the students can use it regularly."
The Kandukuri found other ways to keep that spirit alive. This year, in his memory, the "Seshu Strong" Jimmy Fund drive raised over $12,000.