Merced students raise funds to send teen battling brain cancer to Disneyland

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every penny dropped into special boxes at Yosemite High School over the past two weeks had a purpose.

Associated Student Body Advisor Erika Azevedo says, "We typically have penny wars every as a cancer/leukemia fundraiser, and this year we decided to do it for a student who graduated last year."

Larayna Tapetillo was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable form of brain cancer back in November. The 19-year-old is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy but is also focused on enjoying the time she has left.

That's why leadership students at Yosemite High School began raising money to help send Larayna to Disneyland.

Student Emilee Meza says, "I think it's really great. I've always wanted to help people, and I'm getting the chance to do that here."

The students got their entire campus involved in donating pennies to earn points for their own third period classrooms or contributing other change and bills to give their competitors negative points. The contest incorporated math and business skills, but the students never lost sight of why they were raising the funds.

In the end, they collected $539.43.

Fundraiser Chairperson Jessica Lopez says, "It feels great. I never met her so I'm happy that I got to contribute to her dream, and I hope she gets to go. It feels really good."

Larayna has never been to Disneyland, so she and her mother are both very excited to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, and Ms. Azevedo couldn't be prouder of the work her students have done to help make the experience possible.

She says, "It moves me because that's what we want to do as educators is make a difference for our kids."

Larayna's mother has started a Go Fund Me account to help pay for expenses related to her medical care, as well as other experiences she's hoping to enjoy.
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