Maryanne Authelet: Back Behind the Wheel

Maryanne Authelet, center, with some her fellow Killingly bus drivers union members.

Fighting cancer is no easy task, as Killingly school bus driver and AFSCME Local 1303-261 member Maryanne Authelet will tell you.

Authelet is determined to win her battle against cancer, and she’s doing just that with the help of her fellow union members and her employer.

“We’re not just co-workers,” Authelet observed. “We’re family.”

After being diagnosed with cancer in late 2014, Authelet underwent surgery and treatment last year. Her fellow school bus drivers had only a limited number of sick days they could donate under the terms of their collective bargaining agreement.

So Local 1303-261 members and their bargaining representative, Tricia Santos of Council 4 AFSCME, went to Kim Burnham, the school district’s human resources director, to see if other Killingly Board of Education employees could donate additional sick time.

Together, they approached they Board of Education, which approved the idea as well. This allowed school board employees to donate 50 sick days to Authelet as she went through a grueling recovery process that included radiation treatments.

“We truly appreciate the cooperation and support of Kim Burnham and the Board of Education,” Santos said.

Union members also donated gift cards to Authelet to help her buy groceries and other necessities. They've been rooting for her to get back to work.

“Maryanne’s dedication and love for the job surpasses anyone that I know,” said Local 1303-261 President Claudette Rogers.

Authelet has been driving Killingly students since 2009. She’s back behind the wheel where she belongs, with a little help from her friends.

“Getting on the bus with those kids is my salvation,” Authelet said.