The bond between a Ralston teacher and her fifth-grade student is stronger than ever. Janice Rhods is mourning her baby boy. He recently died after dealing with a rare heart issue. But about a month before, fifth-grade student Adrianna Case stepped up to help in a big way.
It’s been about two weeks since Rhods lost a huge piece of her world.
“I think of his smile. Honestly, I think of him now in peace,” Rhods said.
Her 5-and-a-half-month-old son Caden suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
“His life was one that was filled of pain and hospital stays. He was happiest when he was outside, and he only got that for a couple months,” Rhods said. “Out of the 5-and-a-half months that he was alive, he was home for two of them.”
In November, Caden caught a common cold which led to a fever and a high heart rate.
“Everything escalated super quickly,” Rhods said.
Caden passed away on Nov. 17.
“A combination of all of that, they think his heart was just overworking. His heart was super, super fragile,” Rhods said.
Rhods teaches fifth grade at Karen Western Elementary School in Ralston. So far this school year, she has spent a lot of time out of the classroom to be by Caden’s side.
“You’re trying to be there for your son and for my two other kids I have at home and then I’m also trying to be there for my students,” she said.
Rhods’ student, Case, noticed that struggle about a month before Caden died, and decided she wanted to do whatever she could to help.
“I got him a blanket and I felt like that wasn’t enough so I started a GoFundMe,” Case said.
With the help of her mom, Case was able to create a GoFundMe, raising $2,000 for her favorite teacher.
“I thought it would just be, not like to $2,000. I thought it would just be like a couple hundred dollars,” Case said.
For Rhods, the joy of all of this is about so much more than the money.
“It’s more of, what she did to show her compassion and caring for others. Because she showed that for me, I know she’d do that to other people,” Rhods said.
“I truly love her,” Case said about Rhods.
Rhods said she’ll go back to work Monday. She said she doesn’t think she’d be able to make it through if it weren’t for her amazing students like Adrianna.