On Aug. 31, a fundraiser was held at the MHS cafeteria to raise money for Gerlynn “Lei” Silva, counselor for the class of 2023. During a vacation in California over the summer, Silva’s right foot had gotten infected due to complications from diabetes and in order to keep the infection from spreading, the area below her right knee was amputated. With an abundance of support from friends and loved ones, she has been doing her best to adjust to this new way of living.
“I’ve always known that I was a strong person in general, but I think I’ve had to draw on strengths that I never knew I had. Because this whole thing was really depressing at first, really depressing. Like, what am I gonna do? I cannot afford not to work, I want to work,” said Silva.
While Silva is now comfortable talking about her experience, in the beginning, it was a difficult challenge for her both mentally and physically. She went through weeks of physical and occupational therapy as she adjusted to her limitation of mobility. “Honestly, at first in the hospital, I thought I was okay, so I said people could come and visit me. And I got overwhelmed and I couldn’t have anybody come and see me,” said Silva. “To be in the wheelchair all day, everyday, is hard. It’s hard for my family ‘cause they have to help me do a lot of things that before I could do by myself.”
However, Silva has found the strength to remain positive and is currently happy to be back at work. This month, she will have taught at MHS for 18 years. “She’s definitely a fighter, and she has a spirit that’s very unique. She’s been very positive through all of this and I think that it’s a sobering but important message that she’s demonstrating to everyone about overcoming what could be an adversity and making the best out of the situation,” said Health Core Pathway and Forensic Science teacher Lisa Kaneko. Silva added, “I think the teachers who are getting this fundraiser together have been a big help. A lot of the faculty have been very encouraging, including the administrators; just welcoming me back and trying to find ways to make this place more handicap friendly for me.”
Prior to the fundraiser, a GoFundMe page was set up by MHS staff member and Silva’s daughter Chesarey Silva to help raise funds. Since July 8, over $6,000 dollars have been donated and the money will help go toward medical expenses such as a prosthetic, as well as home renovations to give Gerlynn Silva a better quality of life. The fundraiser itself included a spaghetti dinner, inspired by former MHS staff member Gale Nitta, that ran from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., as well as a silent auction that was held from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Along with Nitta, Kaneko, English teacher Susan Kawamoto and former MHS faculty member Lisa Tsuruda set the foundations for the fundraiser. The dinner was prepared by the Athletic Booster Club along with MHS cafeteria workers and the donations for the silent auction came from friends as well as the public. Donations included a variety of things such as jewelry, salon services and autographed sports equipment.
Entertainment at the event included MHS alumni and local artists such as Freddy Leone, Johnny Suite and Elijah Lagafuaina. From the music to the donations, the fundraiser ran primarily on a voluntary basis. “All the staff — people have been volunteering to help left and right,” said Kawamoto. Chesarey Silva added, “We are super grateful for all of the people who are helping out. The silent auction, again, all of those items are donated. Basically, everything is pretty much voluntary.”
Many people had volunteered their time to help out at the fundraiser, including MHS faculty, staff and ASMHS. The Silva family is extremely grateful for all of the donations and support, and Chesarey Silva has a message to all those who have helped out. “We can’t thank you guys all enough for everything that you’ve done. I don’t think we’d be able to do what we do or continue to do what we do without them. It would’ve been a lot harder for her to come back to work, would’ve been harder for her to basically live day-to-day life, like she normally does,” said Chesarey Silva. Gerlynn Silva added, “The money has helped; we’ve had to order things for my house that we didn’t have before like a ramp going into my house, things like that. They don’t understand how much the donations have really helped us and we’re very very appreciative.”
To help the Silva family, donations can be made by searching for Gerlynn Silva at gofundme.com.