Project Purple sets up fund for teacher

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Naugatuck High School world language teacher Rebecca Cruz talks with students on the school’s track last June during Cruz Night. –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck High School world language teacher Rebecca Cruz talks with students on the school’s track last June during Cruz Night. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — A local nonprofit organization is continuing its efforts to help a Naugatuck High School teacher.

Project Purple, a Beacon Falls-based nonprofit that raises money for pancreatic cancer research and helps people suffering from the disease, has been collecting money for Rebecca Cruz for nearly a year. A fund is set up through Crowdrise to collect funds.

Cruz, a world language teacher at Naugatuck High School, was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in early 2014. She is married and has two children.

Dino Verrelli, a Beacon Falls resident and founder and CEO of Project Purple, said his organization is continuing to collect money because the bills don’t stop during cancer treatment.

“She continues to battle. The battle hasn’t stopped,” Verrelli said.

Verrelli said all of the money that is donated to the fund goes directly to Cruz to help her and her family offset the cost of medical bills.

“If someone donates $100 all of the money is sent directly to family,” Verrelli said.

Cruz was on medical leave last school year but returned this year. Naugatuck High School Principal Jan Saam said Cruz is still at the school.

“Mrs. Cruz is still teaching and we are so blessed to have her continuing here. It’s nothing short of a miracle that she is able to continue teaching with all the demands that job entails. Mrs. Cruz stands for resilience and that miracles really do happen when everyone puts their collective positive energy together,” Saam said.

Donations can be made at www.crowdrise.com/ProjectPurpleRebeccaCruzFund.

Cruz could not be reached for comment.