Richmond Fire Captain gives back to local teachers who helped his granddaughter after cancer diagnosis

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week, a Richmond Fire Department Captain gave back to 16 Henry Ward Elementary School staff members who helped his 11-year-old granddaughter after she was diagnosed with cancer last fall.

The teachers and staff members visited Richmond Fire Captain Greg Johnson’s home for months to visit his granddaughter, Kayla. They called and visited her on a daily basis until she recovered.

“They would come by the house and stand for hours to talk to her,” Captain Johnson said. “This was a constant thing. We loved it and she loved it.”

Kayla and her family showed up with multiple personalized gifts to show their appreciation for all the good the school staff had done for her.

Once they set all the gifts up, the teachers opened the door in shock to see Kayla. Many immediately burst into tears to see her again.

Captain Johnson said Kayla is healthy and she is a fighter, and the teachers deserve the recognition for what they did.

“I wanted to make sure that everybody was recognized,” Johnson said. “So many times, we do things out of the realm of our job. I wanted to make sure they were recognized in some kind of way.”

Sherri Chase, the family advocate for Henry Ward Elementary School, said she was shocked to see Kayla and ran out immediately to give her a hug.

“My day is beyond bright. It may be cloudy outside, but this – I am shocked,” Chase said. “She is the gift. She is the gift. She is a survivor and she is the best.”

Lauren Rite, the school’s counselor, said Kayla’s fight with cancer touched all of their hearts.

“Being able to see her work through all of these challenges and overcome all of the things that she has overcome this year has just been a phenomenal inspiration,” Rite said.

Captain Johnson said, “the teachers go above and beyond what is expected of them. And this is just one of the things that they have done.”

The family also plans on donating to the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation.

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