FRESNO, California (KGPE) — It started as a question for close friends, but now many in the Fresno Unified School District are willing their sick days to help one elementary teacher keep her medical benefits and job.
Yee Valerie Moua knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was in the 3rd grade. As an immigrant living in poverty, she said her early years in Fresno were rough. But, her teachers at Mayfair Elementary School made a significant impact on her.
“I wanted to make the same impact and I wanted to influence students the way that my teachers did,” Moua said.
She has been making that impact on her students since January 2007. This school year would have been her 13th. However, just days before the year started, she saw her doctor between meetings.
While initially seeing her doctor for heartburn symptoms, she’d be diagnoses with a rare and aggressive cancer called signet ring cell carcinoma of the stomach.
The diagnosis devastated Moua.
“I went back to work and cried as I was trying to finish my lesson plans. [I still wanted to] make sure everything was perfect for my students,” she said.
Moua would only get two days with her new class because her chemotherapy and other treatments would make her take a leave of absence.
At this point, she said all of her sick days have been used. She also had 100 days of differential pay, which is when part of her paycheck is used to help pay for a substitute teacher — but, she’s almost out of those as well.
So, on Thursday, she decided to make sure she can still provide for her two sons by asking for co-workers to will her their sick days on Facebook. To make it to the end of the school year, she needs 51.
Some of her close friends quickly offered, but others asked her to make the post public to make it more shareable online. When Moua did, the help and support just came flooding in — with the post being shared nearly 5,000 times.
Moua said many have been messaging her and offering their sick days. Of all the support, she said it shows people here have big hearts.
“To anyone that has just taken the time to see and read my story, I truly appreciate each and every one of them,” she said.
Moua won’t know exactly how many sick days have been offered to her until she checks in with the school district’s human resources office. However, considering the response online, she’s optimistic she’ll get the 51 she needs.
There is also a GoFundMe campaign still raising funds to help Moua pay for all of her treatments. Find it by clicking here.