EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Today marks Childhood Cancer Awareness and a local school is recognizing one child in particular, 8 year old Stevie Lerma, a cancer warrior.
At 3 years old Stevie’s mom, Crystal Lerma started to notice symptoms, and on January 23rd, 2019, Stevie was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“He was complaining about a headache, for a three year old to complain about headaches is very rare, they don’t even know what headaches are at that age. So for Stevie to say mama I have a headache, mama I don’t feel good. He started withdrawing and started throwing up,” Crystal Lerma said.
After he had his brain tumor removed, his chances of walking or talking were very slim. Now she uses her experience urging parents to be vigilant and to look out for these signs.
Every Friday, students at Benito Martinez Elementary have been wearing gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
We asked Stevie how it feels to see all his classmates rep the Gold Out shirts.
“It makes me happy and glad because they are supporting Gold Out and letting Gold Out to spread and letting all the cancer patients to see it, for the city to be gold,” Stevie Lerma said.
Co-founder of Gold Out El Paso, Sandra Ozaeta says, Gold Out is a non profit organization that started back in 2020 and their goal is to turn the city gold to honor children who have been impacted by cancer.
“This t-shirt is important because a lot of people that see you out in the street will stop you and ask you “what is gold for?” a lot of people don’t know that the gold ribbon means childhood awareness. Now on the back of our t-shirts, we incorporated our kids. So we have our fighters, our current fighters and also our angels,” Ozaeta said.
City Representative for District 6, Claudia Rodriguez says they did the proclamation for the non-profit organization to distribute awareness for childhood cancer.
“I donated the t-shirts to Benito Martinez and they’ve been doing a whole week of Gold Out, every Friday they’ve been doing Gold Out and so these t-shirts that I am donating today, Friday,” Rodriguez said.
Adding that when they came to City Council wearing the Gold Out t-shirts she knew she wanted to support the gold out movement.
Gold Out El Paso will be having an event this Saturday, September 24th, where they will be selling their t-shirts. Ozaeta tells KTSM the fundraising money goes to children who are fighting cancer as well as providing meals to children who are patients at the Children’s Hospital.
The Principal of Benito Martinez Elementary, Kertrenia Wright says, children repping gold on Fridays were brought to her attention by their counselor by putting on a spirit week in support of Stevie.
“We are proud of Stevie, we are here to support him, we’re here to support the family, this is awesome. We are gonna start this as a yearly accomplishment. We have a banner outside that actually says childhood awareness. This is Benito Martinez, the pride, we call it patriot pride, patriot pride comes from inside, and that’s what we are,”
Adding that this isn’t the first time they’ve had a child with cancer attend Benito Martinez Elementary.
They want to let the students know the school stands beside them no matter what life throws at them and they are not alone.
Ozaeta tells KTSM, the reason for Gold Out El Paso is to help other families fighting cancer, since her daughter is a cancer warrior.
Adding that after her daughter shaved her head, she told her mom “Hair doesn’t define you” and since then, it has stuck with Ozaeta. Which is why she wanted to give back to other families who are also fighting cancer.