ELYRIA — Be brave, stay strong and fight like a warrior.
The words were on blue T-shirts people wore outside Elyria’s Prospect Elementary School gymnasium, showing their support for Liliana Sanchez, a 6-year-old diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.
The school hosted a walk-a-thon for the first-grader, and sold T-shirts and raffle tickets.
Liliana is “feisty, strong, spunky,” said her uncle, Michael Sanchez. He said they’ve received an overwhelming response of donations from the community and friends for Liliana.
Michael Sanchez had walked around the circle of students, parents and residents walking for Liliana with his phone recording every moment. He was videoing it for his niece, who is in the hospital.
“If anyone’s going to beat this, it’s Liliana,” Sanchez said. “We’re praying for her, that she can get a miracle.”
Teachers wore Wonder Woman T-shirts, as that is Liliana’s favorite superhero. Inside the gymnasium stood a large photo of her wearing a Wonder Woman costume, hands on her hips, in typical Wonder Woman fashion.
Liliana was diagnosed in May with an aggressive brainstem tumor called glioma. It is fast growing and is inoperable because of its location in the brainstem. She soon will begin a series of radiation treatments at Cleveland Clinic.
Liliana’s dream is to be a veterinarian.
A GoFundMe account set up for her has a goal of $50,000 and is halfway to the goal. The family also set up a bank account at Fifth Third Bank that accepts donations.
Prospect Principal Jess Barwacz said school officials received an overwhelming response from students, parents, teachers and community members who wanted to help in some way. The parent organization at the school hosted “Laps for Liliana” to have fun in her honor.
“This is her,” Barwacz said. “Look around, this is her. … She’s a ray of sunshine, a sunflower. She has a profound effect on everyone. Her smile touches everyone.”
Christina Klein, Liliana’s first-grade teacher, has kept in close touch with the family and visited Liliana in the hospital.
“She’s a joy in the classroom,” Klein said. “The kids love her, we love her. She’s a beautiful girl. I’m so proud to be her teacher.”
The donations people made at the event and the GoFundMe account go toward Liliana’s medical costs and for her parents. Her mom and dad are not working right now, so that they can be with her.