Published Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 | 6:27 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 | 12:49 a.m.
A row of grinning children with mouths stained cherry red waved at motorists as they traveled down Eastern Avenue. The children held up signs asking the motorists to grab a cold treat to help their classmate’s family cope with a recent tragedy.
“Fundraiser for Navarro’s,” one of the signs read.
The students from Lamping Elementary gathered Friday afternoon in front of Rockstar Snowcones on Eastern Avenue and Sunridge Heights Parkway after word circulated at the school that the stand’s owner planned to give all of her proceeds that day to the family of Cesar Navarro, who was allegedly killed by his teenage brother last week at their Henderson home. Police on Wednesday arrested Adrian Navarro-Canales, 16, in connection with the stabbing death of Cesar and the boys' mother, Elvira Canales-Gomez.
Stephanie Valentino, whose twin daughters went to school with Cesar at Lamping, decided to hold the event after seeing a note from other parents on Facebook that said the Navarro family needed money to cover burial costs.
Though not many kids at the school seemed to know Cesar, dozens turned out to help his family. Some of the kids have also visited the Navarro home to drop off stuffed animals and notes to create a makeshift memorial.
“I didn’t think it would be like this,” Valentino said, stuffing bills into a bin as she watched the crowd grow outside her portable stand.
At the end of the night, Valentino said she'd raised $1,846. As the kids stood by the street, at least two or three drivers pulled over to hand them $100 bills, and a nearby Taco Bell and Shell gas station also started taking donations.
Even the school’s principal, Robert Solomon, turned out for the impromptu event.
“We have an amazing community,” Solomon said. “Everyone is very supportive.”
Hilda Bravo and her siblings drove to the location after hearing about the fundraiser through a Univision newscast.
“Even though one doesn’t know the family, we wanted to come out,” Bravo said in Spanish. “It’s such an ugly, sad tragedy.”
Like many of the students, Valentino’s daughters don’t remember seeing Cesar at school. But Valentino knew the boy because she would occasionally give him free cones after catching him looking at the stand longingly while he and his family walked to and from their nearby apartment.
She recognized Cesar’s face in family photos that circulated after the slayings.
“You could tell he wanted a snow cone sometimes, so I gave him one,” Valentino said. “It was really whenever they walked by.”