FRIDLEY, Minn. (KMSP) - At Totino-Grace High School Monday, students got to ditch their school uniforms for an orange and black-themed day. However, at lunch their thoughts were not on Halloween, but rather on a fellow student from a rival high school experiencing unimaginable loss.
17-year-old Sam Heras, a senior at nearby Irondale High School, gave up football mid-season to help support his family financially after his dad died of cancer. Instead of finishing his final year on the gridiron, he started clocking more hours bussing tables and washing dishes at Chili’s.
Then last week, Heras was hit with another devastating blow. His mom passed away.
“It’s still hitting me,” Heras said. “I know they wanted me to finish school, so I continue to go to school.”
Since Fox 9 aired a story on Heras last week, the community has opened its heart in incredible ways.
A GoFundMe site for Heras has now raised approximately $40,000. People on the site have offered the young man a place to live and invited him to join their families. Restaurant customers have offered to help him get a car and pay for college.
The student body at Totino-Grace dedicated their Halloween-themed day to the 17-year-old, collecting another $2,000 for Heras on Monday alone.
“It’s somebody in our community in your story that touched our hearts, so you put rivalry aside and say this is a person, a human being who needs help,” Totino-Grace Principal Cheri Broadhead said.
Heras said he does not know what to make of the overwhelming generosity.
“It shows me they really do care about me, like family,” Heras said.