On Monday her teacher, his voice breaking, described the little girl as being, "Full of life and fun … she loved to tell jokes and she especially loved to engage adults in conversation. There was something special about Vanessa; had she lived she would have left her mark on this world, I'm sure about that."
For a time it seemed Vanessa would win the fight against her cancer. Chemotherapy shrunk the brain tumor and Quevedo tells how Vanessa's hair had grown back to a luxuriant length that hung down her back.
"I would watch her on the playground earlier this year; she had gained weight in her face and her hair was thick and shiny," the teacher said, adding, "She looked so happy."
At the beginning of April, Vanessa's health began to deteriorate quickly again and she was admitted to Children's Hospital in San Diego, this time for the last time.
Her classmates then organized a car wash to raise money for Vanessa's family, which is not a large or affluent one, to help with the costs of traveling between Imperial Valley and San Diego.
"I'm am so proud of all my students because they worked hard to raise money for Vanessa and her family by holding that car wash on April 11," Quevedo said.
Now that money will be needed to meet the cost of a funeral and Vanessa's burial in Calexico's Mountain View Cemetery.
But it still won't be enough to pay all the bills. So Quevedo is hoping members of the community will help by donating in Vanessa's memory enough money to allow her family to pay with dignity the costs associated with the little girl's death.
Quevedo says he wants Vanessa's family to be able to grieve for their child without the added pain and heartache of being in financial debt.
Donations can be made at the school at 1950 Villa Road in El Centro. The office is open from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The phone number is 337-6555.
>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or email@example.com