A fourth-grade teacher at Keller-Harvel Elementary School has been overwhelmed by community support in her fight against cancer.
Hundreds of people came to the Chick-Fil-A in Keller April 14 to help in the “Hope for Jennifer” drive. Students sold bracelets, parents sold t-shirts, her coworkers sold raffle tickets and the restaurant donated 20 percent of the evening’s profits. Lines of people and cars wound around the building during the event.
“I never imagined anything like this,” said Jennifer Gottleber. “I’m just blown away.”
Kristen Eriksen, Keller-Harvel principal, joked, “You’re more popular than the cow.”
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Gottleber, 31, was diagnosed with colon cancer last month.
Gottleber and her family have deep roots in Keller. She and husband Richard Gottleber, a teacher at Bear Creek Intermediate School, are both Keller High School graduates. The couple, along with their 3-year-old son, attend First Baptist Church of Keller, where Gottleber’s mom, Cathy Davison, has been director of the preschool for about 25 years. Friends from the school district, the church and the greater Keller community have jumped in to help.
Students in Gottleber’s class started selling bracelets a few weeks ago to raise money for their teacher’s treatment..
Trinity Smith, a student in Gottleber’s class, said, “We wanted to support her.”
Nadia Schepers, another Keller-Harvel fourth-grader, said, “We wanted to help her have hope to get well again and to stay strong.”
Nicole Schepers, Nadia’s mother, said that her family has another connection to Gottleber. Nadia’s dad, Michael Schepers, battled cancer five years ago. Nadia and her two younger siblings were in preschool at First Baptist Keller at the time, and Davison had been a strong source of support for the family.
“She was there for us, and now we can be there for her,” Nicole Schepers said.
Michael Schepers said their family wanted to help because they know what Gottleber is going through and they know how much it means to have others show they care.
“When people have impacted your children so much and have spent a lot of time with your kids, they have a special spot,” Michael Schepers said.
Last week’s fundraiser collected about $10,000 to help Gottleber deal with the many costs not covered by insurance. Friends have started a “Hope for Jennifer” Facebook page, and Gottleber has a page on caringbridge.org to share her journey.
As Davison looked around at the huge crowd at Chick-Fil-A last week, she said, “We never expected it to be this big.”
Gottleber said, “Their support is just so encouraging. It’s just incredible to be so loved through this.”