The Sterling, Illinois community is grieving the loss of an inspirational mother of two. A teacher battling breast cancer lost that fight Sunday, February 17, 2013, as people were surrounding her house to honor her.
Hundreds from the community gathered outside of Jessica Strader’s house in Sterling.
"I know she would be out here helping anyone of us, so we're out here helping her,” says friend Wendy Parker.
Jessica was a special education teacher for Jefferson Elementary.
"It takes a special person to be a teacher, but a magnificent person to be a special Ed teacher,” says Wendy.
Jessica fought breast cancer for the last three years. In 2011, she found out that the cancer had spread to her brain.
"She was diagnosed when she was 26, when she was pregnant with our daughter and she's now 29, " says Jared Strader, Jessica’s husband.
All those impacted by her spirit came out in support, by praying, singing and forming a pink ribbon, a symbol of her struggle. A helicopter was flying above to capture the moment.
"It's been amazing. I mean I don’t know if there's a word that can describe the support we've got from the community, friends and family,” says Jared.
A camera was perched above streaming the overwhelming support from all those she touched. Sadly, Jessica slipped away shortly after.
"When God made her, he made the most perfect person, he could possibly make,” says Wendy.
Although she may be gone, Jessica’s co-workers say she will continue to inspire.
"I never knew a true hero until my friend became one,” says Melissa Willis.