Houston Texans and HCC surprise cancer survivor on her birthday

Jefferson ES second-grader Genesis Cuevas may be battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but she’s certainly not doing it alone.

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Not only did students and staff turn out en masse on Oct. 31 to surprise her with a party on her eighth birthday, she also received a campus visit from TORO the Bull, the Houston Texans’ mascot, along with two cheerleaders and Texan front-office officials Austen Smith and Brian Peden. They came bearing gifts, too, including a football signed by David Quessenberry, an offensive tackle who was diagnosed with lymphoma in June, as well as hats, T-shirts, and other gifts.

The event was organized by Todd Duplantis, the director of public relations for Houston Community College – Southwest, who heard about Cuevas’ situation from his wife, Laura, the nurse at Jefferson.

“We decided to invite the entire school,” said Principal Siomara Saenz-Phillips.

Genesis was diagnosed back in May, but she has finished her treatments and will now just return for periodic scans. “It was such a shock at first,” said her mother, Janet Cuevas, “but Genesis has been amazingly brave.”

After Genesis returned to school a few weeks late this year due to her treatment, the school decided to host a Hats Off for Cancer drive to collect hats for the young girl and to draw attention to pediatric cancer. The purpose of the fundraisers is to collect and donate hats to hospitals, camps, and centers that support children who lose their hair due to chemotherapy.