Two high-schoolers, St. Theresa alumni raise $25K for Catholic education

Best friends Greg Abbot and Katie Coury brought together fellow alumni of St. Theresa School to produce a play to raise money to support their alma mater. The two high-schoolers’ efforts raised $25,000 for Catholic education. (Photo courtesy of Renee Coury)
St. Theresa Alumni present ‘Les Misérables’
Showtimes
Where: St. Theresa School, 5001 E. Thomas Rd.
Tickets:
  • $10: general seating
  • $25: Reserved seating, includes dessert and beverage
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Childhood friends Katie Coury and Greg Abbott bypassed typical summer teen jobs to produce a play to benefit Catholic education.

A fun night out five years ago to see the movie “Les Misérables” sparked a desire to perform the play as a fundraiser for their alma mater, St. Theresa School.

The besties, who years earlier memorized lines and songs from the musical and were in two productions together at St. Theresa, decided last year to get serious.

The Xavier and Brophy College Preparatory seniors raised $25,000 through a combination of donations and a matching fund set up through the University of Notre Dame’s Club of Phoenix.

A portion of the proceeds will also benefit the Alliance for Catholic Education Program. Founded at Notre Dame, ACE financially supports teachers in Catholic schools.

Additionally, they revived the alumni association at St. Theresa and recruited them and current students for roles in the play, which they both have parts in.

“I probably would not do theatre if it weren’t for St. Theresa having a program,” Abbott said, who is a member of the Brophy honor chorale. “This is a good way for us to give back to the school.”

Coury added, “The themes of redemption, hope, fear, sacrifice and triumph are ever present today and the characters are still alive. We need to be men and women who live life out of love and service to others.”

The two remember the first time they met, as youngsters on the playground at the school.

“I don’t remember being alive without him being there,” Coury said. The best friends often get mistaken for siblings, even fraternal twins.

They were actually a year apart in school until one day Coury walked into the seventh grade class, for the second time.

It was Abbott who helped her make the transition back to the same homeroom she was in one year earlier.

Coury, who suffered unilateral hearing loss in her left ear, made the decision to repeat seventh grade because the “traumatic experience” left her with dyslexia and tinnitus.

And her brain also needed time to rewire.

Dee Schaff, a junior high teacher who retired from St. Theresa last month after 22 years, recalled learning Coury liked to perform, sing and get up in front of a crowd.

“That says a lot about overcoming a disability,” Schaff said. “This is all an extension of this very special girl and special guy.”

Schaff and the other junior high teachers were struck by the grace and joy Coury exhibited despite the initial setbacks and challenges.

“She always, always walked in the door with a smile,” she said. “Everything was done with purpose to make her better and she made us better.”

And stronger.

Schaff revealed she was having a hard time hearing students in the back row and approached Coury’s mother for the name of her doctor.

Turns out she had 30 percent hearing loss in one of her ears and needed a hearing aid.

“We all struggle with vanity from time to time and she made it OK for me to admit I have hearing loss,” Schaff said. “The idea of wearing a hearing aid says ‘you’re old.’ No, if at 13 years old she can wear one, I can wear one too. She helped me in more ways than one.”