Throughout her time as a school counselor at Raytown Middle School, Cynthia Gerdes has been an advocate for her students. She contacts parents on a regular basis, keeping the communication lines open between home and school. She informs parents of issues involving their children. She celebrates their successes. She motivates kids to see the value in attending school. She recognizes them when they make efforts to get there. And when a student doesn’t show up for school, Gerdes gets to the bottom of it, even making home visits. In essence, she fights for her students.
But now, Gerdes is fighting a different battle.
Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2018, Gerdes is still thinking about her students as she continues the fight for her life.
“Life knocks you down at times, but you have to keep getting up,” said Gerdes, whose four children are pictured above. It’s the same message of perseverance she’s conveyed to her students from the start. It’s also the same message she shares with her athletes through her role as a cross country coach.
“Keep trying,” she says. “You may not succeed the first time, but don’t give up.”