Student’s cancer diagnosis sparks special bond with teacher

Gracie Perry-Toutaint

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — An elementary school in York County has raised thousands of dollars in less than a week for a student diagnosed with leukemia.

Gracie Perry-Toutaint, a 5-year-old kindergarten student at Magruder Elementary School, fell of the monkey bars in early December. Her fall led to a high fever and eventually a cancer diagnosis by the mid-December. She’s been in and out of intensive care at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters ever since.

Sandi Murawski, Gracie’s teacher, promised her students she would shave her head if they raised $500 to cover some of the family’s mounting medical bills. In one day, the school raised $3,000.

“It’s amazing to be able to know that in some small way our school and community can help,” said Mrs. Murawski. “What a financial burden. As I sat there one day, one of the bills was already coming in.”

Gracie’s two mothers, Kimberly Perry and Michelle Toutaint, have been by their daughter’s side at the hospital for the last six weeks. They say all they’ve asked for are prayers, but the community has responded with many financial donations.

“Disbelief,” said Toutaint, of the feeling when she heard about Gracie’s diagnosis. “It’s not supposed to be your kid. You’re supposed to protect your kid.”

“[Gracie] knows she has a germ in her blood called leukemia and that she is kicking its butt all the way to the trashcan,” said Perry.

Gracie Perry-Toutaint and mothers

Mrs. Murawski had her head shaved on the video morning announcements Thursday for all 600-plus students and staff to see.

Murawski has voluntarily traveled from Gloucester to Norfolk weekly to read to Gracie and give support to the family.

“This is not about me and my hair,” said Murawski. “This is about Gracie, and I want as many people to know and embrace Gracie and her family and continue to do prayers for her. Hair is going to grow back. Lukeimia is her fight.”

Those who wish to help the family can either donate to their online fundraising page or send a check made payable to ‘The Gracie Fund’ to the James York Plaza Suntrust Bank.

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