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7Everyday Hero: After wife's death, man finds joy volunteering at Boulder elementary school

Posted: 8:57 AM, Oct 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-22 10:57:37-04
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BOULDER, Colo. — Douglas Conly may not have been the hot shot growing up, but he certainly is now.

He is described as University Hill Elementary School's most dedicated volunteer. Every day, he's at school by the first bell and he often stays long after the students leave.

"He’s here before I am and some days he leaves after I do," said second grade teacher Luis Marquez. "I’ve never met someone with all this dedication without a profit."

But it's never been about money for Conly.

Four and a half years ago, he lost his wife, leaving a giant hole in his heart. Then, he found a room full of second graders.

"Working with the children is getting (me) out of a shell and having fun with people," he said. "To an extent, they replace what I’ve lost."

He volunteers at University Hill Elementary School, which is a bilingual school, 40 hours a week. During that time, he helps students with their classwork, grades papers, eats lunch with them and plays at recess. Because their lessons are taught in both English and Spanish, he also gets to brush up on his Spanish skills, he said.

While Conly has become the students' biggest cheerleader, he said the kids have become his as well.

"They’ve really taught me something about acceptance," he said. "When I go out to the playground to push on the swings, the children yell at me, 'Douglas, Douglas, Douglas!' It’s almost a cheer you’d hear on a football field."

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here . To nominate a hero in your life, click here .