SBHS students looking out for one of their own

The Romo family

San Benito High School graduate Arick Romo’s life took a spin for the better when a former classmate entered his name into consideration for the high school’s beneficiary campaign this year.
Romo, 31, graduated from the local high school in 2002. More than a decade later, in May 2014, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. It was the day after Mother’s Day and his wife, Meagen Lema-Romo, 30, was six months pregnant, she said.
“I just want to reiterate how amazing he is,” Lema-Romo said. “He’s just really strong. He’s a great dad.”
San Benito High School selected the family of three as this year’s beneficiary of a year-long giving campaign. The Associated Student Body’s goal was to raise $20,000. Lauren Flaherty, an ASB officer with a position in community affairs, thought the school had raised about $9,000-$10,000 as of this week, she said.
Though Romo spends much of his time in bed, he doesn’t let that stop him from spending quality time with their young daughter, Josie, who is 18 months old. Josie doesn’t spend much time in her high chair because she prefers to eat all her meals with dad, Lema-Romo said. His bed is by a window so they watch birds together, read books and play little games, she said.
“I feel like he’s a better dad lying in a bed than some dads are functioning with two feet,” she said.
Romo is optimistic and excited to get a second chance to live, she said.
Each year, the high school faculty nominates possible beneficiaries for the school’s giving campaign. Students speak to different ones, then vote, with the ASB council picking one winner, explained Catalina Lemos, the school’s ASB director.
Romo’s name entered the list of contenders after one of his former classmates took a job at the high school and nominated him, his wife explained. They hadn’t talked since high school, but the former classmate had been following his story through Facebook, she said.
“She followed his story this whole time,” Lema-Romo said. “I thought it was amazing that somebody thinks about somebody they don’t really know.”
Fundraised money will be used to buy a wheelchair-accessible van. Currently, Arick Romo relies on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority for transportation, his wife explained. The chair is 60 inches tall and weighs more than 400 pounds, she said. A wheelchair accessible van of their own would let the family get to doctor appointments and take their first vacation in more than a year, his wife said.
“Just waking up and going to the grocery store, we have to schedule that way in advance,” Lema-Romo said, adding that a trip to the park required the same effort.
His wife added the family was “super grateful,” not just to those who donated money, but to those that shared the flyer and to local restaurants—such as Domino’s Pizza and Dona Esther’s—which held fundraisers, she said.
Mystery at the Vault
San Benito High School’s ASB is hosting “Mystery at the Vault,” a special fundraising event to benefit the Romo family, at 7:30 p.m. Friday Feb. 26 at the Vault, which is located at 452 San Benito St.
The fundraising event is a first of its kind and replaces the high school’s traditional benefit ball.
“I wanted to make more of a bigger event,” said Lauren Flaherty, an ASB officer with a position in community affairs. “I wanted more people to come.”
Flaherty hopes the event will bring in $7,000, she said. If the students are able to sell all 200 tickets, they will raise $5,000 for the family and they’re hoping the silent auction will bring in even more, Flaherty explained.
The event features actors who arrive in costume and participate in an unscripted murder mystery show, explained Scott Flaherty, who is Lauren’s father. The evening also includes a dinner, no host bar, and silent auction, he said. Tickets are $55. Tickets can be purchased at the high school’s student payment center or at Domino’s Pizza, located at 601 McCray St. in Hollister.

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