A San Diego community gathered Sunday to support a school librarian who was paralyzed in a freak hiking accident four months ago.
Deanne Cervantes, a librarian at Adams Elementary School, was in Baja, Mexico for Thanksgiving in November 2015. When she went to walk her dog, the cliff she was standing on collapsed.
“I was standing there and the cliff just gave way,” said Cervantes. “Last thing I knew was 'Woosh' and I was just sucked down to a black hole.”
Cervantes fell more than 20 feet, landing on a rocky shore below. She suffered a broken back, among other injuries, and is paralyzed from the waist down now.
Cervantes has touched the lives of countless people as a librarian at several schools in San Diego, including John Adams Elementary where she is currently employed.
And after nearly four months of intensive care and rehab, many of those people rallied Sunday at Rebecca's Coffee House to raise money and support for Cervantes and her family who need to make their North Park home wheelchair accessible.
She arrived to hugs and cheers from people of all ages.
“It's a little bit too much to take in for one person. I'm so humbled,” Cervantes said as she looked over the crowd of friends, co-workers and students.
There were several pictures from students decorating the cafe doors.
One former elementary student said of Cervantes, “She was always very nice and warmhearted to everybody.”
Another remembers,” She let us check out as many books as we wanted at a time.”
And one girl thanks Cervantes for being “a big part of the reason that I read as much as I do.”
“They thought I impacted their lives. No,” Cervantes said shaking her head. “Their footprints are on my heart forever.”
Once the renovation is complete, Cervantes will then be able to return home to live with her family and two daughters.
The family also hopes to use the money to buy a wheelchair accessible van.
“She's touched the lives of so many people,” Cervantes' daughter Rachel said. “And it's just fantastic to see them coming back and helping her.”
Cervantes hopes to return to work at John Adams Elementary as a librarian but it’s still too early to tell when that might happen.
If you could not make it to the event but would still like to donate, click here.