A week ago, a young lady who fought a brave battle with cancer and became a superhero to many was laid to rest.
Although Aracely “Cely” Gonzalez is no longer with the community, her spirit and legacy will live on for her family and friends and in her classmates and students at Parkview Elementary.
Gonzalez, 9, died Saturday, Feb. 20 at the University of Missouri-Columbia Hospitals after a nine-month battle with a PNET (primitive neuroectodermal) tumor.
She was the daughter of Pettis County Sheriff’s Deputy Javier Gonzalez and Kimberly Gonzalez.
“We’ve done well in getting through this week,” Parkview Principal Stephanie Jackson said Friday afternoon. “Cely was our superhero throughout the years she was a student here.
“We talked about her again (Friday) morning on Superhero Day and she will always be a part of our student body,” Jackson added. “She just touched so many lives.”
As a tribute to Gonzalez, the student body hosted a week-long event to honor her memory and raise funds for the Hope for Aracely Gonzalez Foundation.
Throughout the week, students were permitted to participate in various spirit days if they paid $0.50 each day.
The students and staff of Parkview raised $1,500 during the last week.
“I can’t even begin to fathom the medical expenses the family has,” Jackson said. “We wanted to do this to help them in any way we could.”
Jackson was asked to speak at Gonzalez’s service last Saturday.
“Throughout the week prior to Cely’s service I had the opportunity to visit with many students and staff on the impact Aracely had on their lives,” Jackson said. “There were several recurring memories that I shared.
“Cely always had a smile on her face and it was contagious,” Jackson added. “She could always make us laugh and smile and had the ability to brighten anyone’s day.”
Jackson commented that many of the staff who worked closely with Gonzalez over the years talked about how she was the student that always tried her best.
“Even though things may not have come easy to her, she never let that stand in her way; she always persevered,” Jackson said. “We have one other event planned for the end of the year that we are going to dedicate to Cely.”
At the end of each school year the students host a Relay Recess, which Jackson described as a mini Relay for Life.
“We decided it would be fitting to dedicate our Relay Recess to Cely this year,” Jackson said. “We are going to have a balloon release in her honor to remember a special girl who will live in our hearts forever.”