‘Glass Slipper Parade’ honors longtime Aquebogue teacher

Blue Wave pride was on full display Saturday, all in the name of a teacher who embodies spirit, hope and resilience.

The “Glass Slipper Parade,” which spanned from Route 58 in Riverhead to Aquebogue Elementary School, was held in honor of Keri Stromski, a kindergarten teacher and Jamesport resident who has stage 4 breast cancer.

Despite not actually knowing Ms. Stromski in person, Christine Springer of Baiting Hollow said she helped organize the parade because she felt inspired by her social media and posts published on her blog, Faith Over Fear.

Since she was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Ms. Stromski, 48, has been candid about her experience and become a fierce advocate for funding and research for stage 4 cancer patients.

“After reading about [a new round of chemotherapy] she was going through, I wanted to do something for her to show that we care about her, we’re supporting her and we’re praying for her,” Ms. Springer said. “We want to be there for her.”

Nearly 100 cars, decked out in blue and white with messages of love and support, began lining up at the former Walmart complex on Route 58 Saturday morning before making their way to Aquebogue Elementary, where volunteers with “glass slippers” helped collect donations to help in Ms. Stromski’s ongoing medical costs.

As they entered the bus loop in the parking lot, participants were greeted by PTO volunteers, members of the Riverhead Fire Department and music provided by Sam Strickland Jr., aka DJ Chilli.

“It was just so beautiful,” Ms. Springer said. “People were so gracious and so happy. You could see them dancing in their cars. It was a feel-good day,” she said.

Some young students also dressed up as superheroes in honor of their own superhero, Ms. Stromski, who has continued to teach kindergarten remotely during the pandemic.

Ms. Springer said she’s amazed at how Ms. Stromski has kept her students active, focused and engaged despite the challenges of remote learning.

“No matter what she’s going through, she’s always there for everybody in Riverhead. She’s all about this community,” Ms. Springer said. “Our prayers are all with her.”

Though Ms. Stromski is taking a hiatus from social media and stepping away from the spotlight to recover, she took to Facebook Saturday afternoon to thank the community for their support.

“Words cannot express the gratitude and love I feel for the Riverhead community,” she wrote. “Thank you for helping me make today about the children and our Blue Wave family. 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.”