Sadie the Monkey made an appearance during Parkview Elementary School’s winter vocal music concert, “A Pirate’s Christmas.” Sadie is "filling in" for Aracely Gonzalez, who is away from school as she undergoes treatments for a cancerous brain tumor.
A card and a few uplifting words might not be able to cure cancer, but they can help a Sedalia girl battling the disease have a little brighter Christmas.
Parkview Elementary School student Aracely Gonzalez was diagnosed earlier this year with a childhood PNET cancerous brain tumor. Since then, she has endured five brain surgeries, a tracheotomy and chemotherapy. On Tuesday, she had her first radiation treatment; she faces another 32 treatments between now and the beginning of February.
Peggi Sargent, who is sergeant of communications for the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office, works with Aracely’s father, Javier Gonzalez; that bond led her to become president of the Hope for Aracely Gonzalez Foundation, which raises funds to support families of law enforcement officers and first responders.
Sargent said Aracely has been “a little bit responsive,” but added that the girl has not spoken since her first brain operation, back in June. “As long as everything goes well,” the radiation treatments will be Monday through Friday, Sargent added.
While Aracely has been away from school, her seat in teacher Jodie Thering’s fourth grade classroom has not been vacant. Filling in has been Sadie, a stuffed monkey that is included in all class activities. Parkview Principal Stephanie Jackson said Sadie is a reminder that Aracely is still a part of the class even when she is not present physically.
“Parkview students have really embraced Sadie the Monkey,” Jackson said. ”Sadie is constantly being read to, played with, and traveling down the hall with classmates. … Sadie is a wonderful bridge between home and school. Many students have not had the opportunity to visit Aracely in the hospital, but this allows them to still feel connected to her.”
Thering strengthens that bond by sending pictures of Sadie participating in class and school activities to Aracely’s mom, Kim. The class also keeps a Sadie journal; Jackson said students take turns writing about the events of the day so Aracely has a daily connection to school. Since Sedalia 200 students are now on
Christmas break, Sadie will be with Aracely and her family in the hospital in Columbia until classes resume.
Jackson said Parkview students are encouraged to write letters to Aracely, and many of them made Christmas cards for Aracely and her family. Sargent is hopeful many other Sedalians join in and send a card to a little girl and her family, who all could use a little holiday cheer.
“I know it will have a huge impact on her family,” Sargent said. “And I think Aracely understands what is going on around her, she is just not able to express that right now.”
Since Aracely’s story was shared in the Democrat months ago, community members have stepped up to show their support.
“We’ve had a lot of people bring gifts to the sheriff’s office and asked that we send them on to her,” Sargent said. “We are still getting quite a bit of sizable donations, and that has been good because there are certain things they will need to modify in their home when they bring Aracely home. So far we have put a roof on their house and we are building a (handicap-accessible) ramp. … And there are a few other things that will be needed.”
The Gonzalez family is grateful for all the community has done for them so far.
“It has been a very difficult journey for all of them,” Sargent said. “Just knowing that the community is keeping them in their thoughts and prayers has had a huge impact on them.”
A Christmas card, a few kind words and stamp – the most inexpensive gift you give this year could have the greatest impact.
HOW TO HELP
Send Christmas cards to:
MU Women’s & Children’s Hospital
404 N. Keene
Columbia, MO 65201.
Donations can be made to the Hope for Aracely Gonzalez Foundation account at any US Bank branch; they also can be dropped off at the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office.