Westside Students Give a Heart for the Holidays | Schools
A Westside High School Spanish class is using more than just posters, announcements, and red ribbons to spread their message about helping others. They're taking action.
One student, Jamel Brown, says, "With the ribbon, we represent the heart and that we have the heart to help somebody else. We have the love and the passion to help somebody else that may be in need."
That person is a 19-year-old named Rmandito, young man from Panama who suffers from a rare heart condition.
"His heart instead of being on the left is in the middle, and it's in the form of a boot. He's had several open heart surgeries, and he has a thrombosis which is a condition where his heart is clouded. He has clots of blood around his heart," says Ileana Whitehead, Rmandito's aunt.
After a string of heart attacks that paralyzed his left side, doctor's told the family he needed another complicated and costly surgery.
"If Rmandito doesn't have the surgery, he will die. The surgery, it needs to be performed with an urgency," says Whitehead.
To help, the class is spreading the message to convince others to donate money to help Rmandito.
In the process, they found a surgeon in Ohio willing to pitch in.
"He's willing to fly to Atlanta and perform the surgery pro bono, and the hospital has agreed to receive Rmandito and assist with his medical expenses," says Vicioso.
The class was moved after reading a chapter from their Spanish text book that focused on helping others.
Their teacher, Evelyn Vicioso heard Rmandito's story from a family member and shared it with her students.
Without skipping a beat, the class stepped up to help.
Whitehead says, "These students show an amazing mercy toward others, even though they don't know Rmandito. I'm just amazed by their mercy and love."
But through their project, students say they've grown to think of Rmandito as a friend.
Savannah Glover says, "I honestly think of him as like a friend, and I wouldn't want my friend to do this alone, and I'm helping him, me and my class, our school, we're helping him get the awareness out."
The class says the last piece of the puzzle is finding $15,000 for visas and travel expenses for Rmandito and his family.
"Everyone should count their blessings and want to help, because helping him would mean a lot to him and his family," says Glover.
The class asks anyone who would like to help to email Vicioso at firstname.lastname@example.org.