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Son's death inspires community service

Winters-- In 2009 Catalina Rodríguez suffered the greatest loss of life when her 18-month-old son, Isaac, died of a brain disease. The tragedy left her in a big depression.

Rodríguez, 19, and originally from Winters, was a high school senior when she learned she was pregnant. After completing her studies she dedicated herself solely to take care of her son.

But soon after birth the doctors detected a brain disease that is deadly for children. This completely collapsed Rodríguez's dreams and hopes to some day see her son grow up.

"It was the most terrible moment of my life, one can never get over the death of a son, the pain it causes is big and so far is something I could not overcome at all but I am trying to keep foward," Rodríguez said quietly.

After the death of her son, Rodríguez said she now is more humane and sensitive to everything around her. She cares about people around her and try to support them in case they have a problem.

Several months ago she decided to perform some altruistic tasks such as washing cars or construction yards to raise funds for the organization StayClassy.org, which is a website where people can make donations to help charitable causes in the community.

She managed to raise $7,000 to support all children with the same type of illness of her child. StayClassy.org works with the school where she studies, Solano College in Winters, currently raising funds to help families who have a family member with disability.

Rodríguez wrote an essay about how she carried on after the death of her son in one of her classes. To her surprise, the work was selected from among thousands nationwide to receive StayClassy.org award, which is called The Most Influential College Student celebrated each year.

"I am honored to know that I have been selected to receive this award because this trial means a lot to me because this is the life and suffering of my child. I decided to write the story of my son because I wanted to leave a memory of him in this life," said Rodríguez, who currently is studying general education in her college.

To advance to the round of 10 finalists, she needs community votes by Aug. 26. To vote, visit www.stayclassy.org/classy-awards/voting, click on Most Influential College Student and select Catalina Rodríguez from the drop-down list.

Send e-mail to: mmartinez@vidaenelvalle.com

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