News this past April that she had been diagnosed with leukemia has not deterred 10-year-old Monika Romo's hopes to one day become a kindergarten teacher.
But for this week, she may be better known as "Wonder Girl" than "Ms. Romo" -- though not until the surprise is sprung this morning.
In a surprise event tailored around Monika's superhero idol, Vallejo officials, area politicians and community members have been invited to put on their favorite comic book-inspired costumes and cheer on the Pennycook Elementary School fifth grader at various locations around town this morning.
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, whose district includes Vallejo, has also taken note of Monika, and plans to contribute to her recognition.
The event, organized through community group Vallejo Together with the help of the nonprofit Vacaville-based Supporting Our Cancer Kids group, came together just last month.
Monika's mother, Alejandra Romo, struggled with tears this week as she shared what it was like to have one of her children diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer.
"She has a lot of fear, but she tries to live day-by-day," said Romo, a mother of three. "She's a fighter -- she's been through a lot. She tries really hard to live her normal life. She doesn't ask, 'why me, what for?' "
Monika, Romo said, loves attending school so much that the worst part of her initial diagnosis was when she was told she might be away from school until January. Instead, after just three weeks of intensive treatment and some at-home tutoring, Monika returned to beloved Pennycook community.
The aspiring educator has even had an opportunity to help out in her kindergarten teacher's class as a sort of teacher's assistant since her return, Romo said.
It did not take much urging, Vallejo Together's Maria Guevara said, to convince Monika to pen a 1,700-word essay on the topic of "How can a superhero save Vallejo?" The secret of the essay contest is that it had a a grand total of one entrant -- Monika, Guevara said.
Culling out abbreviated sections of the essay, Monika will give different "inspirational speeches" at several locations around town for her big event.
Scheduled to take part in Wonder Girl's tour of Vallejo Thursday are the Vallejo Police Department, the Vallejo Fire Department, Mayor Osby Davis, Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, the City Attorney's Office, Pennycook and Vallejo High School.
Vallejo police communications supervisor Elisia Ricciardi said her department's involvement, including a police escort and speech, will touch a personal chord.
Ricciardi's mother, a campus supervisor at Pennycook, not only knows Monika but is a stage four cancer survivor herself.
"We would be doing it anyway, but it really touched my heart. Her will, her strong will -- it's very heroic. Personally, I've been surrounded by cancer in my life," Ricciardi said.
Police involvement, during a difficult time in achieving staffing, will not come as an overtime cost to the city, Ricciardi said.
"We as a police department need to be involved in the community," Ricciardi said. "We're trying to get there ... while balancing police services."
Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at (707) 553-6834 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JYVallejo.
Wonder Girl watch
9 a.m. Pennycook Elementary School
9:30 a.m. Vallejo High School
10 a.m. Vallejo City Hall
11 a.m. California Maritime Academy
Noon, Pennycook lunch