The Oakstead Elementary family lost a dear friend and student late last year, but she remains in their hearts.
On Valentine's Day, the school honored Kaitlyn Jenkins with an afternoon of Kick-It for Cancer kickball games.
Kaitlyn passed away Oct. 31, 2011, after a 10-month battle with a rare and inoperable form of cancer. She was 8 years old.
The games were the culmination of a week-long, school-wide event to raise money for CureSearch for Children's Cancer.
The top-raising classes in each grade got the chance to face off against each other in a friendly game of kickball Tuesday.
Event co-organizer Kristen Smith, a second-grade teacher, said organizers set a goal to raise $2,500.
Instead, the students raised $11,400, Smith said.
"There were some tears" when the grand total was announced, Smith said. "We were all blown away."
The money raised will be given to CureSearch on behalf of Kaitlyn's Krew, a team formed in August when Kaitlyn herself participated in a walk for CureSearch, Smith said.
Kaitlyn's mother, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office detention bureau Lt. Stacey Jenkins, attended the games with mixed emotions, she said.
"It's tough, but it's also great," Jenkins said.
She wasn't surprised that the funds raised far exceeded the goal set by organizers.
"This school is just amazing at doing great things," she said. "I had a funny feeling they were going to pass it."
Last Valentine's Day, the entire school—about 1,000 students—sent Kaitlyn Valentine's Day cards, Jenkins said. She sat in the middle of a pile of cards and read each one.
Jenkins said the family plans to remain involved at the school for a long time.
"We intend on staying a part of their lives as long as they'll have us," she said. "They're very special to us."