Iowa high school students rally around their gym teacher, whose 2-year-old son is fighting cancer

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Rafael Martinez is facing every parent's worst nightmare: his youngest son, two-year-old Pablo was diagnosed with cancer last month. The pair has a long battle ahead, but luckily for them, Rafael has 500 of his other kids along for the fight.

Rafael is a gym teacher at Marshalltown High School, near Des Moines, where word of Pablo's sickness spread quickly.

The students wanted to let their teacher know they're here to help. But, making a big class trip to the hospital isn't possible because Pablo's immune system is too weak, and sending 500 cards is impractical. So they came up with a better idea.

 

“I thought well instead of 500 cards coming why not just do a video with all the classes each period,” said Chris Ehlert, a teacher at Marshalltown High.

It started with making Pablo and Rafael a video. But it didn’t stop there. Students made t-shirts, wore wristbands, and even started collecting money to help pay the bills.

At last check, they've raised more than $7,000.

“I feel like we are very lucky. We really mean it. We are very lucky in the fact that we have a lot of people around us,” said Rafael Martinez.

Little Pablo just finished his first round of treatment at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, and the doctors there are optimistic.

Meantime, the students are hoping to raise as much money as possible. They'll be selling t-shirts and wristbands at the remaining football games, and they've started a  YouCaring page to collect money from anyone looking to pitch in.