Chesterfield students honor coach who lost battle with cancer - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Chesterfield students honor coach who lost battle with cancer

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

Relatives of a former Chesterfield coach who lost her battle to cancer say a tribute to honor their loved one is heart-warming. Friday, James River High students unveiled a brand new outdoor classroom, naming it honor of their former coach, Carrie Roarty.

Sometimes hope is inspired by tragedy. That's the message from these students who are keeping their former teacher's memory alive.

This is a moment Chris Roarty will never forget. He sat and watched as students at James River High paid tribute to the inspirational woman he loved.

"They've seen us all the way through since 2008 when she was first diagnosed. This is kind of an exclamation point on this whole thing," he said.

His wife, Carrie, lost her battle with cancer in January. Students at the school where she coached said they had to do something to show they care.

"First we got a grant for $5,000 and that helped to put in the concrete slab and the ADA approved sidewalk," said Kate Wood.

They then did a whole lot of fundraising and went to work.

"At least 50 or 60 students over the past year and half have come help either dig holes for the post, put the roof up," said student Jordan Atkins.

$15,000 later, the outdoor classroom is ready for use.

"Benches are going to go in. People can come out with their laptops. There's no electricity but it's Wifi accessible. So I can see classes coming out for project based learning. I can see classes coming out for lectures," said teacher Meg Heyssel.

The project was years in the making. Once it all came together, students found it fitting to name it in honor of the person behind this smiling face, who touched so many lives.

"She just embodied so much hope. You'd talk to her and you knew she cared. You could feel it," Atkins said.

At the dedication, student wore t-shirts that say "keep calm and Carrie on." That's the spirit Chris Roarty says his wife believed in.

"Carrie is not the person who wants a pity party," he said.

So instead, this is a celebration of memories that will last a lifetime.

"Her spirit will be here just as long as the school is here," Roarty said.

The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors and even the Virginia General Assembly are commending the students for a job well done.

During her battle with cancer, Roarty organized a team of students and faculty who helped her raise awareness by walking in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

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