Katie Blomquist lies awake at night thanking God for everything the past two months have brought.
In September, she launched a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising enough money to buy a bicycle for all 650 students at Pepperhill Elementary, a high-poverty school in North Charleston where she teaches first grade.
Her goal — to raise $65,000 by this Christmas — started out as a pipe dream. But every night, Blomquist prayed that God would help people open their hearts and give.
And boy, did they give. In the past two months, Blomquist's campaign has raised north of $45,000 on GoFundMe from more than 660 donors. Her story has been covered by the online arms of national media giants like CBS and ABC News, and on radio stations all over the country. The outpouring of support from all over world was unlike anything she had ever imagined.
And it hasn't let up. After TV producers read about Blomquist in a Post and Courier article, she was flown to Chicago in late October for a guest spot on "Steve Harvey" and the opportunity to promote her cause in front of a national audience. She was sitting on stage across from Harvey in professionally done hair and makeup when she was hit with another big surprise.
The talk show host gave Blomquist two donations totaling $20,000 from herbal supplement supplier Dherbs and Green Dot Corp., sending her fundraising total over her $65,000 goal.
"We're gonna get them kids them bikes, man," Harvey told a stunned Blomquist while she wiped tears from her eyes.
"I couldn't believe it. I had no idea what to expect," Blomquist told The Post and Courier later. "It's unbelievable. We wouldn't be even be at our goal if it wasn't for him."
Her fundraiser was inspired by a former student, a first-grader named Jawan Dent, who begged Blomquist to buy him a bicycle for his seventh birthday because he'd never owned one. She began asking other students in her class whether they had bikes at home; many didn't.
Now Blomquist, who left a corporate marketing job in Chicago to become a teacher, wants to "spread the love" to students at other schools.
"Why stop here? I always said if we had any extra bikes I'd give them to other Title I schools in the district," she said. "Let's try to get as many as possible for those schools."'
Blomquist is working with Charleston-based Affordabike to design and build custom bicycles for Pepperhill's students. Once those bikes are complete, Blomquist is prepared to deliver each one personally to every student's house.
"Every day something new and amazing happens and it’s something in people's hearts," she said. "Every kid in my school is going to get a bike. ... I never, ever dreamed of this."
Catch Blomquist on "Steve Harvey" at 3 p.m. Wednesday on WCIV. To donate to her campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/everykid. You can also support Blomquist by purchasing tees, tanks and sweat shirts at www.bonfire.com/lets-go-places. Proceeds will benefit the campaign.