Students at Salida del Sol Academy wore pink from head to toe Friday.
They wore pink shoes, pink backpacks, pink hats, pink bows, pink T-shirts, pink ties and dresses. Some even wore pink socks.
Students and staff at the school, 111 E. 26th St. in Greeley, donned the attire to show their support of sixth-grade teacher Elodia Lopez, who is fighting breast cancer.
Lopez moved to the United States from central Mexico when she was 17 and has been working to become a teacher since, she said.
She finally reached her goal last year when she was hired to teach sixth-grade social studies and science at the newly opened dual language school. In October, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
In December, she had a double mastectomy at the McKee Cancer Center in Loveland. She began to run out of sick-leave days.
That is when her fellow teacher Francis García stepped up to the plate. García wrote an email to the administration and staff members explaining Lopez’s situation, which was followed by almost every staff member donating at least one sick-leave day for Lopez.
“This was a drop in the bucket for her,” said García.
Between her medical bills and the commute from Fort Morgan, Lopez needed more support. García and Rene Gonzalez, executive director of Salida del Sol Academy, began fundraising efforts and events to support Lopez.
For example, school staff also organized a burrito night for Friday, charging $10 to eat. All the benefits went to her medical bills.
To raise awareness, García worked with Gonzalez and other staff members to organize a wear pink event, which took place all day Friday.
Students from all grades were given the option to wear pink clothes and pink ribbons to show support for Lopez. The result was overwhelming for Lopez when she walked into the school on Friday morning.
“They touched my heart,” she said.
She had been told that some students from her class would wear pink, but she was unaware that the entire school would participate.
The classrooms and hallways were full of students wearing pink shirts and other accessories.
“I saw a kindergartner wearing pink and even had pink in his hair,” said Lopez.
Students such as Diana Flores, in García’s fifth-grade class, were happy to show their support.
“We are trying to help her and think about her. Today is about her,” Diana said.
García said Salida del Sol staff, students and administration have been overly supportive of Lopez.
“It’s more than just a school,” she said. “It’s a community.”
Lopez was concerned about her job at one point, and administrators assured her that not only would her job be there for her, but that they would help in any way they could.
“I’m going through a lot, but I’m not going it alone,” she said.
**For original version published in the Greeley Tribune click HERE
Salida del Sol Academy rallies behind teacher battling cancer