On the surface, Jacky Angeles seems as content as any fifth grade girl. But it turns out school is her escape, a way to divert her mind from a lifelong broken heart.
Her mother, Adrianna, died of melanoma when Jacky was 3 years old. Then, at the age of 7, the Fountain Valley girl was diagnosed with bone cancer in her right leg.
“They wanted to take the whole thing but that made my dad mad,” Jacky said.
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Doctors chose to amputate the leg above the knee. She nearly missed two years of school, but when she returned to Hazard Elementary, it was her attitude that began connecting her to her teachers, and even to strangers.
“She had a glow,” said Nanci Cole, principal. “She never complains. She’s actually someone you look up to.”
Now 11 years old, Jacky likes to bury herself in books – literally. She volunteers at the school library, which she says is a great place to play hide and seek with friends.
“She’s sweet and kind,” said a friend. “When you meet her, you just want to play with her.”
Throughout all his family’s hardships, Jacky’s father, Alberto, encouraged Jacky and her brother to study hard.
“My dad always said to read and do math because you need math to get a job,” Jacky said.
On Oct. 14, Alberto Angeles died in his sleep while waiting for a kidney transplant. The next day, Jacky went right back to school – a move she hopes would make her mother proud.
“I just hope people understand Jacky is special. She’s taught me lessons in faith and every day I learn from her,” said Yolanda Munoz, Jacky’s teacher.
Now, the school community is trying to connect Jacky with anyone who walks through the front office of Hazard Elementary. There is a donation box there to collect money for the Angeles family.
It may even be used to send Jacky to college, since she’s chosen her career: “I want to be a doctor.”
The Jacqueline and Alberto Angeles Fund has been established at the Orange County Credit Union located at 18287 Brookhurst St. in Fountain Valley. To donate, call 714-755-5900.
Jacky and her brother will live with their cousins, a family with connections they never expected.
“God does things for a reason,” said Demaris Chargualaf, cousin. “What the reason is sometimes you have no idea.”