February 10, 2006

A true “American Hero” at Rice Elementary

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

For students, teachers, and all the community at Rice Elementary, in Chula Vista, David Rugama is an American Hero.

David, a 12 year-old sixth grader, is at Children’s Hospital receiving treatment for a brain tumor diagnosed last October. He has bravely faced brain surgery, extensive treatments, and rehabilitation to combat this disease.

Principal Emiko Nakamura said David serves as an example to other students.

“He’s our own American Heroe because he’s bravely faced brain surgery,” she said.

Thursday, February 9, Rice Elementary had its first annual “Celebration of American Heroes” to honor David and other great Americans who are great role models for students at Rice.

The event included food, fun and festivities to celebrate important people in history who have made a difference in children’s lives.

Nakamura said that, in addition to recognizing great heroes in history, the goal of the event was to raise funds for David’s family.

“David’s story has obviously made our school community come closer,” she said.

Nakamura said David’s mother, Sylvia Cobb, hasn’t been able to work since he was diagnosed with the brain tumor in October.

“She has been by his bedside everyday,” Nakamura said, who added that Sylvia has been an active PTA member.

Nakamura said David’s mother wasn’t available for interviews.

“Obviously this is a very difficult time for the family, as they have to deal with this emotional situation,” she said.

Since David left school in late October, Rice Elementary hasn’t been the same, Nak-amura said.

David’s character is missing.

“He’s a great, all-around boy. He’s funny, he’s helpful. He always says ‘Hello.’ He’s very friendly,” she said.

The principal added that she has known David ever since he came to Rice in the fourth grade.

“He’s a wonderful boy,” she said.

David’s teacher, Mr. Peter Miller, agreed.

“David is a very friendly young man,” he said.

Miller added that David’s classmates miss him.

“We’re really concerned about him. We know it must be really hard on him,” he said.

Miller said David came to visit his classmates in December.

“The kids expressed how much we missed him. We wish him and his family the best. As a parent I just feel so bad for that family. I can’t imagine the pain, the great level of stress they’re going through.”

In addition to the great pain they’re facing, David’s family is experiencing financial difficulties.

If you would like to contribute directly to his fund you may make a deposit at any Citibank to the following account:

Sylvia Cobb/David Rugama, account #40029557929.

Rice Elementary’s telephone number is (619) 420-7071.

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