PHARR - In an effort to support local individuals battling cancer and honor those who have passed from the disease, high school students and staff from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD hosted the 7th Annual PSJA Track of Hope Cancer Awareness Walk on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the PSJA Stadium. Over $16,000 in grants were awarded to PSJA ISD students, staff, and community members at the event. 

According to Gabriel Perez, a senior at PSJA Memorial Early College High School and PSJA Track of Hope District Chairman, the event was possible thanks to the joint efforts from students in all PSJA ISD high schools. 

“It feels amazing to come together with our sister schools to plan this event to benefit not just our students, but the community,” said Perez who is pursuing an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from South Texas College. “We want to assist our families and help make things as easy for them as possible.” 

For Omar Fernandez, a 9th-grade student at PSJA Early College HS currently battling leukemia, being honored at the event filled him with hope to continue fighting the disease. 

“I am grateful to all my classmates and community members assisting,” said Fernandez. “I am honored to be selected for this grant.”  

Like Fernandez, his mother Maria was impacted by the event and seeing hundreds of PSJA Family members come together to raise awareness. 

Students and staff sold chips and shirts throughout the year as well as raised nearly $13,000 from local business sponsors, according to Jorge Lozano the District Track of Hope Sponsor and faculty member at PSJA Memorial ECHS. Over the last seven years, students and staff have awarded over $60,000 to community members battling cancer. 

“It means a lot to see children, who are our future, participating and bringing awareness,” said Maria Fernandez. “Everyone has shown so much love and support. Thank you for thinking of us and inviting us to this event. We will continue this fight, and once he gets cured and rings his bell we will continue being part of our PSJA Family.”