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Students reach out

Soroco honor society to host benefit for janitor, family

Melinda Dudley

Frank Torres is pictured Friday at Soroco High School. The school's National Honor Society chapter is hosting a benefit Wednesday to help with his family's medical bills.

Soroco High School’s National Honor Society is hosting a benefit Wednesday for school custodian Frank Torres and his wife, former Steamboat softball coach Maggie Garcia, to help pay their mounting medical bills.

Torres had to take eight weeks off during the summer to recuperate from knee replacement surgery. After only a week back on the job at Soroco, his wife was diagnosed with an extremely rare stomach cancer and now is seeking treatment from specialists in California.

Garcia, a former girls softball coach at Steamboat Springs High School, had to let her coaching responsibilities go last spring because of her health problems.

“She misses that, because she loves working with the kids,” Torres said.

Having used up all of his sick time this year with his own surgery, Torres said it has been a struggle because he cannot join his wife out of state for extended periods of time.

“It’s difficult for us, because I can’t be there with her,” Torres said.

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Garcia had been experiencing health problems for some time, seeking treatment in Aspen and in Fort Collins before her cancer finally was diagnosed. She now is staying with her daughter in California and exploring surgical options at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Garcia is due to return to Colorado on Wednesday and likely will have surgery in California next month.

“I know she’ll get better, because she’s tough,” Torres said.

When the service-oriented National Honor Society got wind of the troubles their beloved custodian and his family were facing, they began planning next week’s benefit, senior and NHS member Sarajane Rossi said Friday.

“His family is going through a hard time, and we like Frank a lot,” said senior Kimberly Rossi, also a member of National Honor Society. “We wanted to do what we could to help out.”

“He’s always been a loving, good guy,” National Honor Society chapter adviser Beth Faris said. “That’s why the NHS stepped up.”

Torres said he always knew the students and staff at Soroco were close-knit, but he was surprised when he found out they were planning a benefit to help him and his family.

“I really appreciate what they’re doing,” Torres said. “It makes me have a lump in my throat – they’re all so special to me.”

City Market, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Select Super in Oak Creek and Celebrations have donated food or other items for Wednesday’s benefit.

– To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203 or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

If you go

What: Soroco High School’s National Honor Society chapter hosts a benefit for the family of school custodian Frank Torres

When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Soroco High School

Other: The fiesta-themed, all-you-can-eat dinner is $7.50 for adults, $5 for children 12 and younger, and free for children 3 and younger. The menu will include beef and chicken tacos (hard and soft shell), rice and beans, guacamole, chips and salsa, desserts and drinks.