When Allison Wootton found out about the struggle one of her students and his family was going through battling eye cancer, she knew she had to do something to help.
"As a teacher, I tend to get really involved with my students," she said. "He's such a sweet, sweet little boy, and it just broke my heart."
The 4-year-old Oceanside student, Ray Guzman, was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma when he was only 4 months old and is completely blind.
Doctors removed one of his eyes about a year ago and the other about two weeks ago because of cancerous growths that could have spread.
After numerous treatments and surgeries, his family needed financial help, which is where Wootton stepped in.
"We're just hoping to raise enough to help the family with their travel expenses," she said. "Every little bit helps."
Wootton is an SDCOE employee who teaches visually impaired students as part of the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education. She enlisted the help of others on her team, including Mallory Carr, an instructional aide who helped set up a GoFundMe page for the family. As of Feb. 2, the effort had raised more than $1,000.
Ray is now at home, recovering from the surgery to remove his left eye. Despite his medical troubles, he remains in good spirits. The youngest of six children, Ray loves all animals and taking driving trips with his dad.
"Ray is just such a joy to work with," Wootton said. "He's so positive, and he's been through so much."
Wootton has been working with the Guzmans since October, providing support services while he attends preschool. She teaches students in preschool through 12th grade through the consortium.