$10K GoFundMe helps family of fourth-grader killed in accident

The Russellville community came together to raise more than $10,000 in donations in a sevenhour time period this weekend after word spread of a local tragedy.

Russellville Elementary School fourthgrader Yaritza Ramos Nolasco was killed Dec. 18 in an accident.

“Yaritza was a special part of our RCS student body and was doing so well here,” said RCS Superintendent Heath Grimes. “So many who knew her have said she was just an inspiration. She was bright and eager to learn. Her light and presence will be so missed by all those who knew her.”

RCS set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money for funeral expenses and to send her body back to her former home in Guatemala, where much of the family remains.

The response was immediate, with the $10K goal reached in a few hours.

“Words can’t express how grateful we are to everyone who donated to or shared these needs,” Grimes said. “The family is overwhelmed by this show of support and kindness in the face of such tragedy.

“We know no amount of money will ever be able to completely heal the hearts of those who knew and loved Yaritza, but we hope this brings them some measure of peace to have these expenses covered and also to know how much this community cares for them and that they have support here in Russellville.”

Grimes said Yaritza and her family have been part of Russellville City Schools for a year and a half after moving to the area from their home in Guatemala in search of better opportunities. He said she comes from a family with a limited educational background and has faced many challenges but had achieved so much in her time at RCS.

RES Principal Kristie Ezzell said Yaritza took full advantage of the new opportunities she was given and was a precious student who loved school and her teachers.

“Even though Yaritza had only been at RES for a year and a half, she was really thriving this year,” Ezzell said. “She had the sweetest smile. We are so saddened by this horrible tragedy and the loss of our sweet girl.

“We will be there to support our students and faculty through this, and we also hope, with the help of our community, to be able to help the family as well.”

Yaritza’s teacher, Cortney Green, said she was an absolute joy to teach and a true inspiration for all she had overcome.

“Yaritza was like a little sponge,” Green said. “She had been flourishing. She was learning multiplication and loved phonemic awareness. She had learned to write her name in cursive, and on the last day of school she hugged me and said, ‘I love you Mrs. Green.’

“She loved ‘Frozen’ and ‘The Little Mermaid.’ She also loved watching videos of my daughter Emmy cheering on my phone.

“This little class has been my greatest blessing this year. I have learned so much from them, especially Yaty.”

Grimes said even though the GoFundMe account has been closed after reaching the $10,000 goal, he still hopes everyone will keep the family in their prayers.

“My heart is absolutely broken for this family,” Grimes said, “and I hope our community and others will rally around them during this devastating time. I’ve been part of the Russellville community for five years now, and I’ve witnessed what this community can accomplish when we band together.

“I sincerely hope our community will reach out to this family and show them the love of Christ and how we help each other in this community and in our country.”