Photo: Courtney Blasl

The line of cars, trucks and SUVs decked out in Blue Waves blue and white stretched as far as the eye could see.

The “Glass Slipper Parade” that made its way from Route 58 in Riverhead to Aquebogue Elementary School this morning was a testament to the impact Aquebogue Elementary School kindergarten teacher Keri Stromski has made on schoolchildren and their families for more than 20 years, on the Riverhead school district and the larger community.

She is loved.

“Keri overwhelms me with the way she is,” said Christine Springer, an organizer of the parade. “She’s an inspiration to me.”

Springer has never even met Stromski “in person,” she said, though she knows members of her family. She follows her on Facebook, where Stromski has a legion of friends and supporters.

Aquebogue kindergarten teacher uses a variety of puppets to engage her young students.

Stromski, 44, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in November 2016. She became an outspoken advocate for people with stage IV diagnoses, raising awareness of the lack of focus on stage IV patients. She is also a prolific writer, chronicling her journey as a stage IV survivor and her evolution as a health advocate. She publishes a blog, Faith Over Fear.

“She’s just an incredible, amazing person,” Springer said. “The way she teaches her students, the energy and love she exudes. They adore her.”

Despite the challenges of remote teaching during the pandemic — Stromski teaches the remote kindergarten class for the district — she engages her students and holds their attention, Springer said

“She just draws people in.”

Vehicles lined up waiting for the parade to begin. Courtesy photo: Jill Kubetz

Springer said the turnout today was “amazing.” About 75 vehicles, left the parking lot of the former Walmart on Route 58 and drove to Aquebogue, where supporters accepted donations intended to help offset Stromski’s ongoing medical costs.

“It was so beautiful,” Springer said. “I was shocked by the turnout — but then I wasn’t. Everybody just loves Keri. They all want her to know everyone is thinking of her and praying for her,” she said.

Stromski, who is spending a quiet holiday weekend at home with family, posted a message of thanks on Facebook this afternoon.

“Words cannot express the gratitude and love I feel for the Riverhead community. Thank you for helping me make today about the children and our Blue Wave family,” Stromski said in the post. ”I love you all and feel your prayers every day. Thank you for respecting the space we have taken and are taking to rest and heal.”

RiverheadLOCAL photos and video by Courtney Blasl

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.