CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Kingswood Magnet Elementary instructional assistant Claudia Behm and teachers have been making gnomes to raise money for 13-year-old former student Alexis Medina Lopez and his care. He has sickle cell anemia and is getting a bone marrow transplant Thursday.
"Their family has been really close to the Kingswood family because they have three kids that have already gone through elementary school with us," Behm said. "So we all have been touched by the family. And we all knew about Alexis' condition. So we all wanted to help out somehow, his cause, and his parents. They're a wonderful family."
"That's pretty nice of them," Alexis told ABC11 via Zoom.
His 15-year-old brother Antonio will be his donor. It'll involve both of them needing care for weeks after the surgery. That's why Behm is raising funds.
"Seeing him in the hospital, different utilities they use on him, different types of medications or pain relievers, it sucks," Antonio said. "It really does suck. I really hope that this is the last (surgery)."
Their mom, Maria Lopez Pena, lost their 1-year-old brother in Mexico. They said they believe he also had sickle cell anemia.
She's hopeful the surgery will give Alexis a fresh start.
"As a mother, you don't want your kids to suffer," Lopez Pena said. "It's very painful. Now we're happy that finally my son, after the transplant and after a year, everything will change for him. It's a blessing."
Lopez Pena and her husband have four children, ages 2 to 15.
Alexis is now a student at Reedy Creek Magnet Middle.
"You definitely can tell that he has been going through so much and even so, he still smiles every day," Behm said. "He has a great heart."
Behm is still selling gnomes and started a GoFundMe to help Alexis.