Celebration of life planned for Godfrey-Lee teacher

Elayna Durso and her family (undated photo).
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Students and staff are asking for your help to raise money for a Godfrey-Lee teacher's family.

Elayna Durso passed away Saturday, Dec. 23 at the age of 35 after a battle with stage 4 breast cancer.

Students and staff at the school want the community to know Durso was much more than just a teacher.

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According to her friend and coworker Katherine Merriott, she was a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, coach, high school teacher, student council advisor, NHS advisor and leader of Godfrey Lee's Spanish Club.

In a video made for Mrs. Durso before she died, students and staff talked about what they love about her and how she has made an impact on their lives.

"We want to help her because she's helped us through so much, with all different types of stuff," one student said in the video. "She's given so much to the school, so it's really important to help her through her hard times."

"Just imagine like your family members or you own mom or sister -- it's something really dramatic," said another student. "It just emotionally hurts everybody in the school.

"I hope everybody joins together, within the community and outside the community to donate money to her."

According to a GoFundMe page, the Durso family has faced many challenges in the last few years. In addition to the cancer diagnosis in April 2016, Elayna and her husband Jacob suffered a miscarriage at 23 weeks pregnant in 2015.

Students and staff are hoping to raise $10,000 for medical and funeral expenses.

As of Wednesday, Dec. 27, $6,785 has been donated. If you'd like to contribute, click here.

If you'd rather make a donation in person, a local cover band called Rebel Swain is hosting a "Celebration of Life" for Elayna on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Whitefish Lake Golf & Grill in Pierson, Mich.

More details can be found on the Facebook event page, "Elaynapalooza."

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Kayla Fortney is the senior multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.