Fifth-grader inspires her classmates

PLYMOUTH — It’s easy to see why Maria Gonzalez’ classmates love her.
The little girl who loves to read and play board games with her family will be fighting a brain tumor for the second time in her young life. That fight has brought an outpouring of support from her friends and teachers at Plymouth’s Riverside Intermediate School. The wave of support is now spreading.
In a week of activities designed to help Maria and her family as they face radiation treatments at Indiana University Hospital in Bloomington, Riverside alone was able to raise over $2,000.
“I know that Webster (Elementary) is also organizing a jean’s day as a fundraiser,” said Donna Burroughs, Principal at Riverside. “I’ve been working with Bloomington in arranging things for her family. There is a place called Jill’s House there that will allow her family to stay with her while she undergoes treatment. While it’s very reasonable there is still a cost to stay per night and the money will allow her family to be with her right there.
“I think it’s amazing that we were able to raise so much money. This is a very generous community.”
This is the second time that Maria has undergone treatment for the tumor.
“The first time I was only 3,” said Maria. “I don’t remember much about it.”
She was still in aftercare for the tumor until kindergarten but has been in remission since. Now the tumor has returned and doctors feel that surgery at this point would be too dangerous for the fifth grader.
“I was sad and crying,” she admitted of the day she found she would have to undergo more treatment. “It’s scary. My family has really helped me not worry about it. We’ve been going to places we haven’t been before to have some special times before I go to Bloomington. My dad took me to the mall shopping this weekend and then we had dinner at Golden Corral.”
While Maria spent Friday at her doctor in consultation for her upcoming treatment, her classmates were having a “March for Maria” as a finish to a week of activities for her (see video of the event at
“It feels really good to know that they all care so much about me and don’t want me to go,” said Maria. “It makes me feel really good inside. I’d tell anybody else who has to go through this to have faith and hope and trust in God.”