Community steps up to help St. Johns County school employees battling cancer

Community steps up to help St. Johns County school employees battling cancer

ST. JOHNS, Fla. —

Kenneth and Romilda Smith are longtime St. Johns County employees.

“My Durbin family, I call them,” Kenneth said. He works at Durbin Creek Elementary as a custodian.

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His wife, Romilda, works at Patriot Oaks Academy. She’s a paraprofessional who works in the classroom with other teachers.

Heading back to school during a pandemic, the couple knew the 2020 school year would bring its set of challenges . However, they never expected what else they would have on their plate.

“It went from a little cough and hard to breathe to stage four lung cancer,” Romilda said, talking about her husband’s diagnosis.

When Kenneth’s co-workers heard the news, they wanted to do something to help. Students and parents also pitched in.

“The teachers and the staff all took up a collection for me, which was overwhelming,” Kenneth said.

Then, just last month, Romilda found out she has breast cancer.

As of Sunday, it’s raised more than $5,300 and will help with medical bills.

“People come together in the situation,” Romilda said. “It’s just overwhelming it’s indescribable.”

The couple said people should not ignore warning signs and get regular check-ups.

“Check yourself. Go to appointments and hopefully they’ll catch everything in time, and there’s hope.”

Romilda has been off from work for surgery and other medical procedures, but is planning to return on Wednesday.