WEST, Texas — Stephanie Bearden works as a substitute art teacher at West High School, but her own artwork has struggled after cataracts in both her eyes left her nearly blind.
"I haven't produced much this year myself, I encourage the kids to do it," Bearden told 25 News.
Bearden scheduled corrective surgery later this month, but even after taking out personal loans to cover the costs, she found herself still short nearly $600.
"I just did not know where I was going to get that extra money from," she said. "It was like okay God, okay Jesus take the wheel attitude. I don't know what to do, I don't know how to do this."
That's when the efforts of four high school freshmen were an answer to her prayer. Those students were Wyatt Sexton, Gage Kirkpatrick, Nick Munoz, and Aydan York.
"She's always talking about how it's hard for her to see and we usually have to help her turn on her computer and we knew we had to do something about it," Sexton said.
"It just made us very sad and uncomfortable to see her like that, how she can go blind any day and there was nothing anyone could do to help," Kirkpatrick added. "So we thought let's start a GoFundMe for her."
That GoFundMe quickly brought in more than $7,000 which was much more than the $5,000 it originally requested.
"I never dreamed so many people would donate," Bearden said.
"I expected to just reach the goal, but it has really exceeded the goal," Munoz said.
Bearden said this will greatly impact her life and every dollar will go towards her surgery, paying back the loan, and her postoperative care.
"I wish I could send everyone who donated, no matter the amount, a thank you Christmas card," she said.
The GoFundMe is still active as students continue to accept donations.