Andy Ord was only “Mayor for a Day” in O’Fallon. But what happened during his short tenure in office was life-altering.
Andy, now a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Fulton Junior High in O’Fallon, got to serve as city’s chief executive on April 17, 2017, shadowing former Mayor Gary Graham.
During their time together, Graham asked Andy if he'd like a doughnut as a snack.
"Yes, I would love a doughnut,” Andy replied, “even though I'm trying to lose weight."
That moment sparked a conversation.
Graham remembered thinking, "This young man was a little different than most."
"He was very verbal and smart for his age, but I realized after talking with him that he was concerned about his weight, which surprised me," Graham said.
So Graham told Andy a story about his own boyhood — about how he "had been fat in grade school,” but lost the weight later in life by “staying active and eating healthier."
Then Andy asked him, "What's on your arm there?”
“And so I told him it was my Fitbit — a tool to count my steps and track how many calories I burn throughout the day," Graham said.
Soon, instead of a doughnut, there was a wager on the table.
"I told him that if he lost 10 pounds in a year, I would buy him (a Fitbit), too," Graham said.
Andy was 125 pounds at the time.
When the second week of April 2018 rolled around, Andy’s mom, Jennifer Ord, took him to O'Fallon City Hall to report back on his results. He was 13 pounds lighter.
"Last year was, in my opinion, a very great year for me,” Andy said.
Though Graham was no longer mayor, Andy's mom said that city hall employees helped them get in touch with him at his home in Florida.
Within a few days, Andy a received a check from Graham in the mail with and a handwritten note telling him to use the money treat himself to a new Fitbit.
The memo on the check said, "Way to go!"
The note read, "I'm so proud of you. You set a goal and you lost weight! ... Good job, stay in touch."
Graham said he was happy to hold his end of the bargain up.
"It's amazing,” Graham said. “Because I know how hard it is to lose weight. I wish more kids had that much willpower and drive."
Jennifer Ord said the gesture meant the world to her son.
"So many people say so many things and don’t follow through with their word, but here it is a year later, and he’s retired and not even in office or even in the state, but he still kept his promise and remembered my boy," she said.
Said Andy, "I knew he was a man of his word."
Graham said he didn’t think he did anything special. It was all Andy.
“He did (something special) by reaching his goal, and from talking with his mother, it seems to have changed him in a positive way," Graham said.
It definitely has.
"I feel great, and it's nice to know that I could achieve the goal he told me," Andy said, beaming with an ear-to-ear smile.
Andy said he will always be grateful to Graham for his “very helpful advice, in my opinion," as well as the confidence the former mayor showed in him.
"I thought his watch was really cool,” Andy said, “but his faith in me was better."
As or advice for other kids, Andy said they should never be afraid to ask for assistance.
"If you need help with your dream that you want to follow, talk to one of your school teachers or counselors or your mother or father or some of your friends,” he said.
But most of all, just try to be your “best self.”
“Never give up on your dreams,” Andy said.