When Crystal Pacheco, a first grader at Monte Cristo Elementary School, in Edinburg, last year was asked to write a letter containing her Christmas wishes, she asked for a ball for her brothers, food for the family, and a blanket for her brother who had been hospitalized. She asked for nothing for herself. And her unselfish letter went viral and launched a blanket drive that raised more than 1,500 blankets.
She garnered praise from throughout the Rio Grande Valley, and nation. The Monitor even named her 2017 RGV Citizen of the Year First Runner-Up.
On Thursday, Crystal’s selfless acts gained praise from the State Board of Education, which bestowed her with a 2018 Student Heroes Award.
In fact Crystal and another RGV student were only two of 15 in the entire state to receive this honor.
Horacio Garcia-Rojas, a junior at IDEA McAllen College Preparatory School, was given this prestigious award for leading an effort that resulted in the funding of 23,000 free chemotherapy treatments through a program called “Caps for Chemo” that he started. For every 1,000 bottle caps collected, a cancer patient is provided a free chemotherapy treatment. During his sophomore and junior years, he collected over 23 million caps.
In naming these two, the SBOE rightly said in a news release that they “demonstrated inspiring acts of kindness and compassion.” Only one student per state board district is named. Horacio represents District 2; Crystal represents District 3.
Hearty congratulations to Crystal and Horacio for showing us all that no matter your age, or size, you can accomplish heroic feats.
And while this in no way diminishes Horacio’s accomplishment, we thought it would be fitting to reprint below the Dec. 31 tribute we published about Cystal when we named her 2017 RGV Citizen of the Year First Runner-Up: