Finally…a good surprise.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Martin family because up until now the surprises haven’t been too positive.

“[I had] ocular melanoma, which is melanoma in the eye,” Mary Martin-Perez said. “It attacks the pigment in your eye.”

For 25 years, Perez-Martin has watched the bright, eager eyes of her students, giving them the skills they need to see clearly in a world that’s always changing.

“She finds a way to identify with each and every child and how best to support them so they can be successful in the classroom.,” said fellow teacher Lori Wallerich.

“[My students have] been amazing through all of this,” Perez-Martin said. “They’re troopers. They’ve put up with a few subs in and out of the classroom and they’ve withstood it all. They’re like pillars for me.”

But even more critical than her classroom — her faith and family have pulled her through these recent dark days. Mary lost her eye as part of her cancer battle, but she never lost her optimism — a lesson that has extended way beyond her classroom.

“This is not really a big deal to her. She can live her life with one eye,” said friend Samatha Campbell. “She’s just happy to be alive and happy to be with her family…and so I kind of feel like I need to take a step back.”

“It’s been really awesome how she’s fought through all of this and how she just stays calm through all of it,” said Perez-Martin’s son Tobias. “If it was me, I’d be freaking out every single day.”

“Time is precious and that grew us a little closer together and made the family a little bit tighter,” said husband John Martin.

That’s why we surprised Mary with Pay It Forward — so she can continue to fight this battle head on and see through whatever other adversity comes her way.

“There are no words,” Mary said. “There are no words to explain the support that’s come from the staff and the community — my students’ parents, my students — people we know, people we don’t even know that have been praying for us.”

If you would like to help the Martin family with their expenses visit their GoFundMe page or buy a t-shirt from West Foundation.