Educator Tricia Pucci worked with Rochester Public School students for 20 years.
Pucci, who was most recently a paraprofessional at Franklin Elementary School, built close relationships with the students she worked with and came in early to tutor many of them, according to friend Rebekah Fitzgerald.
"Its not as though she just worked with these kids from grades first grade through fifth grade and then doesn't talk to them again," Fitzgerald aid. "She genuinely gets to know these kids and is invited to their weddings."
After giving so much to the community, there is now a chance for the community to give back to her. There will be a community fundraiser Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. at the Eagle's Club in Rochester.
In November, five months after marrying James Edmonson, Pucci suffered a stroke that kept her in the hospital for months. Friends and family of the couple banded together to make sure the they had everything they needed.
Teachers created a sign-up sheet to make sure that the couple always had meals and that someone was able to be with Pucci all the time. Edmonson's parents helped work on the couple's house so Pucci would be able to live on one level.
When Pucci was released from the hospital, her husband had to go back to work at Kellogg Middle School. Pucci needed care around the clock, and the cost of in-home medical care added up.
Again, friends and family banded together to help the couple. In March the group created a GoFundMe page and started to raise money to help with medical expenses. The community response Fitzgerald has seen has been astounding.
"We just want it to be a celebration about them," Fitzgerald said. "And again, they know they are supported, but I think this is a good reminder of just how many past students and lives they have touched and that we all are really rallying behind them."
Pucci touched many students, and not just at Franklin Elementary School. She was also a basketball coach for sports mentorship academy for at least five years, according to Fitzgerald. It was a sport that Pucci didn't know anything about, but she knew that those boys needed someone to coach them and mentor them.
"We would always tease her because she didn't play basketball, but, you know, she learned everything she needed to do to coach them and be there for them," Fitzgerald said, "so that's pretty cool."
The benefit on Sunday will include a silent auction features items donated from many local businesses, a bake sale, and live entertainment from Generation Gap. All proceeds will to towards helping Pucci and Edmonson pay for medical expenses.