Students create GoFundMe for teacher whose wife dies

More than $50,000 donated to support English teacher Ted Levey and his family

Student+created+a+GoFundMe+page+for+English+teacher+Ted+Levey+when+they+heard+his+wife+had+terminal+cancer.+Donations+exceeded+more+than+0%2C000.

Carol Chen

Student created a GoFundMe page for English teacher Ted Levey when they heard his wife had terminal cancer. Donations exceeded more than 0,000.

By Anirud Lappathi, California High School - CA

When English teacher Ted Levey told his class about his wife’s terminal illness last month, the support he received was entirely unexpected.

Levey’s students created a GoFundMe that has received more than $53,000 in donations to support Levey and his late wife, Jessica Ringwood, who passed away on Nov. 17 after her battle with cancer. Ringwood was a librarian at San Ramon Valley High and previously worked as an English teacher at Monte Vista High.

Levey and his late wife have two young children.

“It is really an outpouring of love and support from this community that was thoroughly unanticipated,” Levey said.

Junior Adam Wies, who is in one of Levey’s classes, was present when Levey presented his students with a few slides that helped explain why he has been behind on grading papers. Levey said his wife had been put in hospice care because she had terminal cancer.

“It really shocked us that he could show up to class every day and teach and we wouldn’t even know that he was going through something at home,” Wies said. “He put in the effort to come and do something for us at school, so we wanted to do something for him.”

The idea for a GoFundMe first came about on Nov 9 when junior Saachi Sharma, who isn’t in Levey’s class, heard about his situation from her friend, junior Kamran Chaudhry, who is in Levey’s junior English class. Sharma came up with the idea to create a GoFundMe for Levey, and Chaudhry and Wies set up the campaign. 

Word about the GoFundMe spread quickly as students and teachers from across the San Ramon Valley Unified School District posted it on social media. The campaign reached its final goal of $50,000 in about 14 days. 

“I made it and it instantly got a few $100 donations,” Chaudhry said. “I did not expect it to be this big.” 

Chaudhry and Wies expected to raise around $5,000 in donations and ended up hitting their goal in less than a day. Chaudhry had to change the goal several times throughout the campaign because previous goals were achieved rapidly. 

“I shared [the GoFundMe] with all my friends and they reposted it and once all my friends reposted it, everyone from the entire school just began to put it on their stories and share it with their friends and family and it ended up spreading really quickly,” Chaudhry said.

More than 700 donors have contributed so far. Even Levey’s former students donated and sent positive messages through GoFundMe. 

“Mr. Levey, I am so sorry to find out the sad news about your wife,” former student Eleanor Chiang commented on GoFundMe. “I was one of your students at Cal High (Class of 1999). You were one of the best teachers and were very good to all of us! My deepest condolence to your family. May you find strength and peace in this difficult time and please take good care!”

Junior Kian Kasad said Levey is a great English teacher because he goes in depth and makes the class interesting for him. 

“I don’t usually like English,” Kasad said. “He [Levey] doesn’t just talk about a book, he also talks about how the books we read relate to life.”

Levey still has not decided what to use the donations for. He plans on spending time over the holiday break to think about what to do with the money.

“I’m humbled and very appreciative that so many people took time to support me and my family,” Levey said.

This story was originally published on The Californian on December 22, 2021.