A beloved custodian returning from medical leave was surprised by a roaring crowd of 600 students during a sweet welcome back party.
Tyrees Dandridge, also known as Mr. D., arrived to Pole Green Elementary School in Virginia on Feb. 25, after undergoing a heart and kidney transplant.
The kids had made "welcome back" signs and decorated the halls in artwork in celebration of his good health and return to school.
"They were hugging me, telling me they love me," Mr. D., 59, told “GMA.” "I love them too. It was just wonderful."
Pole Green principal Rhonda Voorhees said students and staff had been planning the party for months.
"Mr. D is an icon," Vorhees told "GMA." "He is serving his 19th year at our school and he is well-known and loved by our staff, students and community. He is a model of perseverance, which is a powerful lesson for all of us."
"Our school is thankful for his health, and that he is back with his school family," she added.
Mr. D., a father of five and a granddad to four, said he is grateful for his health and all the love that surrounds him.
Mr. D. hopes to raise awareness of the need for organ donations.